NICA announces new high school leagues at Interbike

Minnesota, Texas and Washington join existing programs

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association welcomed Minnesota, Washington and Texas as the three newest states in its high school cycling program during an Interbike press conference last week.

Minnesota enters as an Emerging League, while Texas and Washington come in at the more developed level of a Project Leagues.

Matt Fritzinger, NICA’s executive director of NICA welcomed Vance McMurry, Lisa Miller, and Gary Sjoquist as founding chairs and state league representatives.

“Our goal is to provide coast-to-coast mountain biking for student athletes by 2020,” said Ben Capron, of Specialized and the acting president of NICA. “We are now ahead of the curve with this goal.”

Vance McMurry is the founding chair of the Texas High School Cycling League, who has worked in two presidential campaigns. His Texas League has a goal to register 200 riders in its first year. With a population of 1.1 million high school students within a 4.5-hour drive encompassing Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, he thinks this is a feasible target. Texas schools will begin competition in fall of 2011.

Lisa Miller is founding chair of the Washington High School Cycling League. Racing for Washington schools will begin in spring 2011 with six counties surrounding the Seattle metro area.

Gary Sjoquist is the founding chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling League, which at this time is a Project League. Sjoquist is a former teacher who now works at Quality Bicycle Products.

“I’ve been running a statewide mountain bike series, and was approached by some big retailers, who were already supporters of the series, who thought we should create a high school league,” he said. “In the coming year we will prepare the materials NICA needs us to have in place. Minnesota already has several good mountain biking venues for a range of skill levels. Our early focus will be on the Twin Cities area, where there are 76 schools and 125,000 secondary school students. For us it’s not that heavy a lift; it’s a matter of pulling in the resources. I’m determined that this not be a bike culture thing; we’re going to spread it out into the larger community.”

Colorado League off to a good start

Sunday morning, 19 September, at Chalk Creek Ranch the Colorado high school mountain bike League opened their season. Over a year of planning brought together 144 racers from 17 schools along with and a handful of independent riders.

Kate Rau, the executive director of the Colorado High School Cycling League, was overwhelmed by the turnout.

"I'm overjoyed by the support from the cycling community, coaches, parents, and volunteers,” said Rau. “I'm thrilled to be spreading high school mountain biking."

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