National Interscholastic Cycling Association launches new league in Mississippi
Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023
JACKSON — The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) announced today that it has accepted the bid from Mississippi to join NICA as a new league. NICA develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes and coaches across the United States.
“We are excited about bringing NICA to Mississippi,” said League Director Michelle Williams. “I am very impressed with how the NICA organization addresses the whole student-athlete. Mountain biking is for everyone – those who like to race and those who prefer to ride slower and enjoy adventures, as well as those who like to build and maintain the trails they ride. After spending several years participating in the Alabama NICA League, it is now time for us to bring this excellent organization to Mississippi for our kids. We are excited to get more kids on bikes, letting them have fun outdoors, teaching them new skills, helping them set goals, and building a supportive community. I can’t think of a better way to spend time with kids outside in a sport where everyone gets to participate. We don’t ride benches; we ride bikes!”
NICA will open registration for coaches in September 2023 and student-athletes may register in October to begin pre-season activities. The regular season starts December 1, 2023, and races and other events will take place in the spring of 2024.
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“We look forward to spreading NICA’s mission of getting more kids on bikes in the Magnolia state! We are so glad to welcome Mississippi into our NICA community,” said NICA President Amanda Carey. “The commitment and dedication of Mississippi’s league staff has been tremendous as they’ve worked to bring this vision to life. We are thrilled to welcome such an outstanding team of cyclists who represent NICA’s core values of fun, inclusivity, equity, respect, and community.”
The on-the-ground team expressed their excitement about the upcoming league and season.
“The launch of a MS NICA League is a dream come true for me,” said League Co-Founder Selena Swartzfager. “While I hoped this would happen for the student-athletes across Mississippi when we started the MS Blues Team seven years ago, I was not sure how or when the Mississippi League would become a reality. I know that this opportunity for MS students will change lives. This sport gives everyone a chance to become a better version of themselves. The mountain biking community is really fun and inclusive of anyone who likes to spend time on a bike. Now we just have to spread the word to all MS communities so that we can grow a group of young people that are healthier, more confident, and able goal-setters. Let’s ride!”
Al Kennedy, a parent of a student-athlete currently participating on the MS Blues Composite Team, added, “NICA provides a unique environment for our kids that successfully spans competition, personal development, and fitness in a supportive community I have not seen elsewhere. I’m thrilled NICA is coming to Mississippi to offer our kids opportunities to get outside, get fit and get personal experiences you cannot find on a screen. Let’s grow together.”
With the addition of the Mississippi League, NICA has grown to 31 leagues and increased the regional opportunities for youth cycling. NICA is a mission-driven nonprofit that provides safe, reliable, and predictable youth development experiences for middle and high school students by using mountain bikes as a character-building tool. NICA leagues focus on teaching life and bike skills through programming, including team practices and group rides, adventure activities, competitive racing, and trail stewardship. In addition, the organization offers an initiative called GRiT, designed to get more girls into cycling, along with dedicated diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives to bring more under-represented communities into NICA. NICA’s core values of fun, inclusivity, equity, respect, and community are visible throughout its national organization and Leagues.
About the Mississippi Interscholastic Mountain Bike League
The Mississippi Interscholastic Mountain Biking League is an emerging project of The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) – 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As one of many leagues across the country, we create, manage, and organize a variety of mountain biking programs and events to get #morekidsonbikes!
Above all, we consider ourselves a youth development organization. Our goal is to have fun, build confidence, and teach students to set their own goals to conquer personal challenges. We welcome all student-athletes into our League to experience the lifelong joy of riding a bike.
About the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)
The National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s (NICA) mission is to build strong minds, bodies, character, and communities through cycling. NICA recognizes the value of participation in NICA League events for all student-athletes, free from discrimination based on race, religion, or gender identity. Our core value of inclusivity demonstrates our belief that everyone should participate in our programs and feel welcomed, respected, and supported.
Founded in 2009 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, NICA develops interscholastic and community-based cycling programs for student-athletes and coaches across the United States. NICA provides leadership services and governance for local leagues to deliver quality mountain bike activities and events. NICA has served almost 64,000 student-athletes since 2009. Currently, NICA has 31 state and regional leagues and 14,000+ registered volunteer coaches working annually with over 27,000 student-athletes from over 1,000 high school and middle school teams in the USA.