Following a popular fall series of coaching courses, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) expects to have licensed 1,000 high school mountain bike coaches in regions around the United States by the end of 2012.
"The level of excitement and interest in the NICA coaching program is incredible and hearing high school coaches tell me that the tools and lessons learned at the NICA Leaders' Summits is extremely satisfying," said Austin McInerny, the NICA educational programs director. "NICA looks forward to expanding our teaching curriculum to help empower dedicated coaches as they continue to grow the sport of high school cycling across the United States."
The 2011 coach training programs educated more than 250 new and existing coaches in cycling skills, coach training and wilderness first aid courses, in five regions across the US. Of this number, 127 were new coaches coming into the system. More than 500 licensed NICA coaches now exist in the USA.
People are coming to the NICA Coaches License Program from a wide range of backgrounds, including rocket scientists, police officers, nurses, school teachers, NICA alumni, FedEx couriers, bike shop owners and parents of student-athletes.
As a result of the added responsibilities of working with high school age students, the NICA coaches program has the most stringent requirements of any cycling coaches' program in the USA, with requirements including cycling specific wilderness first aid training;leaning how to teach "on-the-bike" skills to absolute beginners; continuing education requirements; training on how to minimize and manage risk; and background checks.
One coach, Sean Ahmadi from Austin, Texas, said, "I enjoyed the coaching course, especially the skills part with Lee McCormack. With juniors it's all about giving them incentives so they will push themselves when they are ready for it. It's easy to mess it up and hard to get it just right. I think it would be a good idea for other coaches to go through a NICA seminar just to learn how to deal with youth."
Leaders' Summits and wilderness first aid courses will take place this spring in Utah, Minnesota and Colorado, and this fall in, Northern California, Southern California, Texas, Washington, and New Mexico. The summits are open to aspiring and existing coaches in all 50 states. NICA will also be hosting two Leaders' Summit on the east coast this summer.
NICA offers travel scholarships to highly motivated individuals who are making progress in developing new state or regional leagues.
See more NICA coverage on Cyclingnews.