Last month NICA hosted its annual conference in Bentonville, Arkansas. This year’s event brought over 150 leaders together from 22 states and regions to strategize, connect and continue to expand NICA’s efforts to promote youth development through mountain biking across the United States. “Having been at every NICA Conference over the past nine years, this was one of the best yet. Arkansas offered width and depth on all levels. I'm bullish on the future of NICA. Great work!” said Matt Gunnell, SoCal League Director.
Keynote sessions included talks by John Burke, President, Trek Bicycle; Joan Garry, Joan Garry Consulting: Because Nonprofits Are Messy; Jerry Lynch, Founder and CEO, Way of Champions; and John O’Sullivan, Founder, and CEO, Changing the Game Project.
The conference was comprised of three tracks providing specialized, inspirational and professional development training for NICA League Leadership, Coach Supporters and Guild Leaders and members. The large group sessions combined with smaller break-outs provided diversity of content and opportunity to connect and meet new people across several unique Bentonville locations. In addition to professional development and training, participants had the opportunity to explore the local Bentonville mountain bike trail systems with afternoon group rides led by local Arkansas League coaches.
Conference attendees enjoying the Bentonville trails. Photo: Todd Bauer / TMB Images
Additional highlights of the conference were the launch of NICA’s new Girls Riding Together Program (NICA GRiT), and the revitalization of the Teen Trail Corps Program (TTC). Both programs are funded by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.
NICA GRiT is a national program that aims to increase female participation in the sport of mountain biking by 10% over the next five years with a focus on recruitment and retention of girls and female coaches in NICA leagues. Currently, girls represent 20% of the NICA national student-athlete participation. Focused efforts are needed to increase teenage female involvement as well as the number of adult female coaches. By providing skills development, promoting positive physical health, confidence and self-esteem and providing coach training, NICA’s goal is to provide a fun, safe and competitive environment for young women to excel.
Teen Trail Corps (TTC) is a national program empowering NICA student-athletes to take a leadership role in promoting trail advocacy, land stewardship and courteous and respectful use of trails. Teens Trail Corps seeks to raise awareness among the next generation of cyclists through leadership, involving student-athletes in conservation efforts and providing them the tools to educate their peers on how to be a good mountain bike advocate.
Lauren Duensing, NICA VP of Programs stated; “We are pleased with the objectives met, feedback received, and success of the 2018 NICA Conference! All aspects of the conference met expectations and further propelled NICA on its’ mission to get #morekidsonbikes. All aspects of Bentonville, Arkansas not only delivered, but raised the bar on the full local mountain bike conference experience.”
Thank you to our 2018 National Conference Sponsors!
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