Put Me In, Coach

NICA Coach at WorkThe lifeblood of every NICA league is its coaches. Coaches are on the front lines: from the early race starts, tough training rides, heartbreaking defeats to stunning victories. Coaches have the opportunity to connect with their racers to form meaningful and lasting relationships. Coaches push their racers to strive for and achieve more, believing in their athletes before their athletes know how to believe in themselves. Through coaching, you have the opportunity to help a new generation discover and nurture a love for mountain biking, and perhaps even learn a little something about themselves along the way. In 2015, NICA had 3,130 coaches, representing 522 teams across the country, in 2017 you could join this fantastic team!

Sign up here to join us at our March 10th Information Session for prospective Coaches, Assistant Coaches and Ride Leaders. Check out this video to get a feel for what it might be like to coach a NICA team.

NICA is first and foremost a youth development organization; our focus is the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character of student athletes through their efforts on the bike. Being a NICA coach is about being a mentor and providing a supportive environment in which student athletes are comfortable exploring and challenging their personal boundaries, both mental and physical. The best part about coaching is that anybody can do it: from the retired pro-racer looking to pass on their pearls of wisdom to the enthusiastic recreational cyclist, what matters is your passion and dedication to your team and racers! NICA will provide you with everything else it takes to run a successful high-school or middle-school mountain bike team.

Our inaugural racing season is scheduled for Spring 2017, and we plan to host a handful of races around the Garden State. Most of 2016 will be dedicated to recruiting and training coaches, recruiting athletes, selecting and certifying race venues, and dotting many i’s and crossing those t’s.

Here is an approximate timeline:

  • March 10th, 2016: coaches’ townhall (meet & greet, league overview, Q&A)
  • Before end of 2015/16 school year:
    • Approach school administration for buy-in (coach & NJ NICA rep)
    • Recruit assistant coaches and other volunteers
  • Sep/Oct 2016 NJ Leaders’ Summit (training for all new coaches); Assistant Coaches/Ride Leaders do not have to attend the Leaders’ Summit. All coaches, assistant coaches and ride leaders have to complete Concussion Training, CPR Certification, Background Check and obtain NICA Coaches’ License.
  • Fall 2016: Recruit racers & parent volunteers
  • Winter 2016/17: Kick off team activities (training, spin class, meetings and get-togethers, etc.)
  • Spring 2017: Hold practices and start racing (-:

So what’s involved with becoming a NICA coach, you ask? Good question, here is a overview of what you can expect. Coaches across the many NICA leagues come from all walks of life, and span the spectrum from young to old. The head coach can be one person, or a 2 person team. It’s all good, the key requirement is enthusiasm for kids on bikes.

  • During our inaugural 2017 spring racing season, we hope to hold 4 to 5 races; races are typically held on Sundays, and coaches are encouraged but not required to attend races. We expect our race dates to fall in the April – June timeframe.
  • Pre-season: 10/15 – 12/1, NICA allows up to 6 total pre-season activities (bike checks, mechanical workshops, all-inclusive fun rides, skills clinics)
  • Regular Season: NICA insurance allows up to 4 practices per week (January: cross-training & endurance, possibly weekly indoor spin class; February-March: weather permitting, outdoor practices commence, including bike skills and endurance riding; March – through racing season: practices continue, emphasizing speed and racing strategy). Typical schedule would be 3 weekly practices (Tuesday, Thursday and non-race-day Sundays).
  • Other aspects of running a team include: Recruit and establish relationship with team sponsors and an official team bike shop, recruit student athletes, recruit parent volunteers, manage relationship with school and the NJ league
  • Have fun & be contagious!

To find out more about becoming a NICA coach, please contact Larry Towner  or Tom Kruse.

And be sure to mark March 10th on your calendar for the New Jersey coaches’ town hall meeting and the Olde Mill Inn in Bernardsville.