Starting a team is incredibly rewarding and we want to make it as straightforward as possible. The league has years of experience helping coaches start and develop teams. Anyone can start a team – parents, teachers, cycling enthusiasts. No experience is necessary; we provide the training and education needed. Plus, we will connect you with a coach mentor who can support you every step of the way. Visit our Coach Toolbox for additional resources.
Step ① – Get Your License
The AICL requires that all adults riding with an interscholastic mountain bike team be certified and covered under the league’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 the league director to be invited to join the Pit Zone (our online coach / team registration and management tool). You will complete licensing requirements online in the Pit Zone. It is easy and quick (Pit Zone FAQs).
READ NICA’S COACHES MANUAL
Step ② – 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:
UNDERSTAND TEAM STRUCTURES
School-Based Teams: 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 join school-based teams.
Composite Teams: A team comprised of full-time students from more than one school within the same district or proximity. Home-school students may also join composite teams.
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 ③ – Build a Relationship with Your School
Forming a relationship with school administrators is a critical part of a team’s formation. Without their support you won’t be able to use the school’s name, recruit riders or become an “official” team, therefore we encourage you to keep the administrators informed and involved. Here’s how:
MEET WITH THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
UNDERSTAND “OFFICIAL CLUB STATUS”
The State of Arizona has strict rules regarding “official” clubs. The league DOES NOT require that teams be official school clubs. If you are interested in becoming an official club, please work with the school administration to do so.
STAY INVOLVED WITH THE SCHOOL
We suggest sending the administration an end-of-season card thanking them for their support. Include a photo of the team, rider accomplishments, and perhaps a few inspirational stories.
Step ④ – Recruit Riders and Parents
GET THE WORD OUT
- Distribute team fliers
- 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 season. 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.
- See Coach Toolbox for example team rules, schedule, team sign up form, parent volunteer tasks, etc.
- Set practice schedule and stick to it.
Step ⑤ – Start the Season!
Once you have your riders and support from parents, you are now ready to start the season.
REGISTER YOUR STUDENT-ATHLETES & COACHES
Registration starts April 1. The head coach or team director registers the team and invites riders and coaches into the Pit Zone.
- 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 may 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 mountain bike skills and drills before riding trails.
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.
HOLD PRE- AND POST- RACE CHECK-INS
These short meetings with your riders will help you understand how you can help them during and after the races.