Written By: Deanna Kakouris / Co-owner South Side Cyclery
NICA became part of our lives in Missouri with its inaugural season in 2020. As the world faced a pandemic, the launch of the Missouri Interscholastic Cycling League (MICL) provided the opportunity for many in our area to have an outlet for physical activities and socialization. We are so proud of our long-time friend, Chris Mileski, for all his hard work in bringing NICA to Missouri, and we’re on board to help support in building this league.
Because MICL has a fall racing season, NICA provided the opportunity for our then 14-year-old son to have an alternative to football. In our first year in the league, we were unable to race due to the pandemic, but it gave the team an opportunity to get comfortable riding mountain bikes. Many of them had never had that experience before.
It also reignited a spark for our son to ride more.
Since my husband and I have been riding and racing for years (he is a former Pro and I am an amateur), we were thrilled by our son's restored interest in riding bikes and by his requests to go mountain biking together.
Like many, the pandemic brought big changes for us. Our family was asked to purchase an existing bike shop. Because my husband had had a lifelong career in the cycling industry and I have experience in the retail business, marketing, and finance, it was a logical idea and a passion for us.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving forward.
Even though we started this process prior to the pandemic, we ended up finalizing the purchase in January 2021. (Yes, we may be a bit crazy.) Owning a bike shop allowed us to be the title sponsor for our son's team, which happens to be an urban team of 50-plus student-athletes. It gives us pure joy to sponsor, coach, and provide internships at our bike shop for these student-athletes. It has helped us bring life back to a bike shop that had lost its enthusiasm and was just barely getting by. It has encouraged families in our community to get outdoors and ride together, promoting a healthy and happier life. It has helped create a strong community of individuals who were able to share in something positive and healthy during some pretty dark times.
We have seen a transformation in our own son, who has found a focus and discipline that is improving his life in many ways. He has found confidence without arrogance and has made friends with other student-athletes across our state who challenge, encourage and support him to be his best self. He has become a leader and mentor to others on his team and he is just one example. We have seen so many others grow in a positive way.
We look forward to providing our support to such an incredible organization, as well as providing additional opportunities to complement what NICA has created.
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