Join an Existing Team
Joining an existing team is the easiest way to get started. Check out our Team Information page to find head coach contact information for a team near you.
Start a New Team
Starting a team is incredibly rewarding and we want to make it as straightforward as possible. NICA has years of experience helping coaches start and develop teams. You can find a incredible amount of information online at NICA’s Team Starter Kit but the basic steps are as follows:
Step ① – Organize Your Team
Team organization varies from team to team and will evolve over time. However, all teams start with the basics. Here’s what you need to know:
DECIDE WHAT TEAM STRUCTURE YOU WILL USE
School-Based: A team comprised of full-time students from the same school. Can be an “official” team that is recognized as an official club by the school or unofficial. Home-school students may also join school-based teams.
Composite: A team comprised of full-time students from more than one school within the same district or proximity.
ASK A FRIEND TO JOIN YOU in the creation and management of the team. Check at local bike shops for recommendations if you don’t already know someone in your area. If you want to create a school-based team, try to find a teacher or administrator who is willing to be a club sponsor.
Step ② – Recruit Riders and Parents
GET THE WORD OUT TO RIDERS & PARENTS
- Distribute team flyers
- Create a Facebook page (see example here)
- Put an ad in the paper or on the community board
- Remember to talk with the middle school students (grades 6-8)
- Meet with all local bike shops for assistance recruiting riders and coaches
Once you have a roster of riders, host a parent meeting before the start of the seas on. This will help get everyone on the same page and help you recruit parent volunteer and ride leader help.
HOST A TEAM MEETING
- Local bike shops or libraries are great places for these meetings. Most shops will allow you to host a meeting after the shop closes.
- Introduce the team and coaches.
- Create a contact list and introduce the Pit Zone (our online coach / team registration and management tool).
- See Coaches Resources for example team rules, schedule, team sign up form, parent volunteer tasks, etc.
- Set practice schedule and stick to it.
Step ③ – Get Your License
NICA requires that all adults riding with an interscholastic mountain bike team be certified and covered under NICA’s insurance plan. This certification ensures that our student athletes will be safe and have qualified adults present during team rides and races.
- Start the Licensing Process (once you are a licensed coach, you will be fully insured).
- Email Mike Perry to be invited to join the Pit Zone. You will complete licensing requirements online in the Pit Zone. It is easy and quick.
READ NICA’S COACHES MANUAL
- Purchase the Coaches Manual (sample chapter). Note: Leaders’ Summit attendees are provided with a NICA Coaches Manual and Mountain Bike Skills Manual as part of the registration fee.
Step ④ – Start the Season!
Once you have your riders and support from parents, you are now ready to start the season.
REGISTER YOUR ATHLETES & COACHES
Registration starts April 1. Know that teams who register completely and on time (compliant) will save in registration fees.
- Set up Pit Zone (read the Pit Zone Manual)
- Register riders
- Register coaches
- MAKE SURE ALL STUDENT-ATHLETES ARE REGISTERED IN PIT ZONE BEFORE ALLOWING THEM TO PRACTICE.
- Most teams hold practices 2 to 3 days a week (July 1– mid-November [all team rides or other training activities must end within two weeks of the final League race]). Teams are allowed to practice up to 4 days per week. It is up to the coach to decide what will serve his/her team the best.
- Pick a location with beginner-friendly trails (remember, you will have lots of novice riders!).
- Check riders bikes before practice (ask local bicycle mechanic to attend first practice to assist with bike checks).
- Focus on MTB skills and drills before riding trails.
- NEED HELP? Call us and we can arrange to have a staff member or other local coach assist you in running your first practice.
Step ⑤ – Race Season
GET READY TO RACE
- Make sure your riders have registered for races one week before first race.
- Go over pre-race checklist with riders.
- Distribute race flier for race.
- Plan weekend timeline with riders and parents (pre-riding course the day before is recommended).