NICA Honors its 2013 Award Recipients

Rear: Master of Ceremonies Dr. Anais Spitzer (USADA TrueSport), Austin McInerny (NICA Executive Director), Coco Ramirez, Garrison Hayes, Haley Batten, Sherry Thurgood, Megan Bradley, Elmo De Ville, Matt Gunnell, Rick Spittler.
Front: John Dawson (SRAM),Justin Griffin, Sean Bird, Brad Didier, Yuri Kostick, Host Jeremiah Bishop (Team Sho-Air/Cannondale and USADA TrueSport Ambassador.)

 

Outstanding participants in high school cycling leagues across the U.S. were honored at the 2013 National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) Awards, held at Berkeley Marina, California, January 25, 2014.

NICA presented awards in ten categories to fourteen individuals and organizations considered to be the most outstanding student-athletes, dedicated coaches, and the most supportive volunteers and sponsors to have helped advance the high school mountain biking movement over the past year.  Experience the showcase event in this short recap video by clicking here.

Clif Bar Volunteer Service Award

The Clif Bar & Company Volunteer Service Award honors an exceptional volunteer with 3+ years of commitment whose dedication of time, expertise and enthusiasm goes above and beyond to make a difference in the organization.

Sherry Thurgood, Utah High School Cycling League

Sherry said, “The kids in this sport are nice to each other, even riders they don’t know. It brought tears to my eyes to see the defeated face of that kid turn into a giant smile when he saw the other kids were there to cheer him across the finish line. Even though our son is no longer racing, I hope to continue volunteering at races. It’s just so much fun.”

To view Sherry’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Michael Angelovich, Texas High School Mountain Bike League, Huntsville High School

The Volunteer Service Award honors an exceptional volunteer whose dedication of time, expertise and enthusiasm goes above and beyond to make a difference in the organization.
To view Texas High School Mountain Bike League, League Director Vance McMurry accept the award on behalf of Michael Angelovich, click here.

CamelBak Distinguished Alumni award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a student-athlete who carries on the spirit of high school cycling beyond their high school years.

Sam Trop, Utah High School Cycling League

Sam Trop is currently undergoing basic training for the United States Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. Accepting the award on his behalf, Utah League director Lori Harward said, “Sam has done it all for his team and as a volunteer at league events. He saved the day several times during crisis moments when the race crew needed someone they could rely on. He is selfless and dedicated, and always has a smile on his face.”
To view Dave Harward accept the award accepted on behalf of Sam, click here.

Primal Wear Race Production Partner Award

The Race Production Partner Award acknowledges an individual whose outstanding partnership role in race productions is key to the success of a leagues race event production.

Robert Ramirez, NorCal High School Cycling League

Ramirez, who works part time for the NorCal High School Cycling League, said, “When I first signed up as a volunteer six years ago, it was an excuse to get out of the office. But at that first race I could immediately see that these cycling events address the big picture in creating healthier families and communities. The impact is not only in the on-bike activities but also what the kids do off the bike as well. That was it for me, I was hooked. And what always impresses me is that so many people do so much for high school cycling, not only in NorCal, but in every league. This award isn’t just for me, it’s for all of us.”
To view Robert’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Quality Bicycle Products Community Impact Award

The Community Impact Award honors an individual whose dedication to high school mountain biking has resulted in positive impacts on youth, the community and the organization.

The Honorable Yuri Kostick, Mayor of Eagle, Colorado, Colorado High School Cycling League

Mayor Kostick persuaded the Eagle trustees to contribute $60,000 toward expenses to build a multi-use trail system which hosted a Colorado High School Cycling League race in 2013 and which will host the 2014 Colorado High School Mountain Bike Championships.

Mayor Kostick said, “When the kids and their families showed up to race, it was life-changing for me. I saw kids making their dreams happen. They gave everything in that event.”

To view the Honorable Yuri Kostick’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

NICA Legacy Award

The NICA Legacy Award honors an individual or organization for their tremendous philanthropic support of NICA and NICA Leagues.

SRAM

Recipients of this award are individuals who understand the importance of empowering youth through sport and who have put their energies behind efforts that demonstrate and exemplify the traits that they themselves possessed and utilized to help them achieve success. NICA would not be where it is today without the encouragement and support from exemplary individuals such as past Legacy Award recipients Jim Easton, Gary Erickson and Mike Sinyard, and we are honored to present the 2013 award to SRAM.

To view John Dawson accept the award on behalf of SRAM, click here.

Easton Foundations League Founders Award

The Easton Foundations League Founders Award recognizes an individual’s commitment, enthusiasm and perseverance in launching a new NICA league.

Matt Gunnell, Director, SoCal High School Cycling League

Former police officer Matt Gunnell has been the driving force behind the SoCal League for the past six years. Under Matt’s leadership, the series has grown by 300%, with last year’s season seeing 409 student-athletes. To all aspects of the league and in helping other league directors, he has applied hard work, efficiency, responsiveness, dedication, integrity, and intentionality, while caring for and motivating staff, student-athletes, coaches, parents and sponsors.

Matt said, “I was fortunate enough to become engaged in this movement in 2008 and to have a small part in bringing the SoCal League to life. Since then, I’ve been stoked to see SoCal grow. I truly believe in this movement so it’s been easy for me to pass on this passion and articulate to movement to my fellow league directors. I believe in DIY, doing it yourself, and in questioning authority. I see absolutely no reason why mountain biking cannot go on to become a full high school sport.”

To view Matt Gunnell’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Sho-Air Extraordinary Courage Award

The Extraordinary Courage Award recognizes student-athletes who have persevered through challenging circumstances and overcome adversity to develop and excel as a model student-athlete.

Garrison Hayes, Colorado High School Cycling League

Garrison Hayes overcame disabling surgery in having his left knee removed due to cancer, and now competes successfully with a prosthetic left leg.

Garrison said, “For the past eight years since my surgery I’ve been figuring out what I can and can’t do. Two years ago I started riding a two-wheeled bike and got into mountain biking. I had no idea it would be the most difficult thing I’ve done. One of the main roles of my left leg is to help me get up after I fall! But while many see amputative surgery as a disability, I see it as an opportunity. I have volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and Bike for Life program to show other kids there are still good opportunities post-trauma. I hope my actions can help others to reach greater heights.”

To view Garrison Hayes’ NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Elmo De Ville, Texas High School Mountain Bike League, Huntsville High School

Elmo said, “Mountain biking was the first thing I cared about. It’s been a savior for me. Without mountain biking I don’t think I’d be here to accept this award. After graduating high school I hope to come back and volunteer and see this great sport grow and grow.”
To view Elmo’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Specialized Student-Athlete Leadership Award

The Specialized Student Athlete Leadership Award honors student athletes who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, sportsmanship, academic performance and volunteerism in their team, school and community.

Megan Bradley, SoCal High School Cycling League, Rim of the World High School

Megan’s leadership and high mountain bike ranking earned her Team MVP Award in 2012 and 2013. She also excels in her academic life including earning Academic Letter, and Academic 1st Bar for 4.0 GPA.  She is a member of the National Honors Society, and of the Rotary Interact Club where she spends 4-6 hours a week in community service, in addition to trails cleanup.

Megan said, “When I first joined my high school mountain bike team, I thought I was a good sport just because I wasn’t mean to others. But in mountain biking I learned I should go and congratulate others and offer words of encouragement. The sportsmanship at these events contributes a lot to the energy. I feel I have grown a lot as a person through mountain bike racing.”

To view Megan’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Sean Bird, SoCal High School Cycling League, St. Francis High School

Currently the Associated Student Body President, Sean is a four-year member of the St. Francis High School Student Council, he has served as Freshman, Sophomore and Junior Class President. Also, he volunteers for “Bikes 4 Orphans” Sean’s helped his school mountain bike team by recruiting sponsors, designing trail routes, and was a ride leader for citizens that came out to a fundraising event that generated $6,000 for the team.

Sean said, “High school mountain biking makes for unforgettable memories. When I discovered mountain biking, I realized this is my true passion. It may be difficult to find another team that involves so much pain and suffering, but at the same time such friendliness. I will remember these years for the rest of my life.”

To view Sean’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

SRAM Coach of the Year

The SRAM Coach of the Year Award acknowledges a head coach whose qualities as a leader and motivator embodies NICA’s mission to provide student-athletes with the coaching and camaraderie to help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive goals in a safe and enjoyable manner.

Brad Didier, Texas High School Mountain Bike League, Huntsville High School

Brad said, “10 years ago I received the help of somebody when I was in need. On asking how I could repay him, he said ‘pass it on’, and so I have. I accept this honor for the Huntsville High School team. I am just a small part of what makes it work so well.”
To view Brad’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Trek All-Star Student-Athlete Award

The All-Star Student Athlete Award recognizes student-athletes for their outstanding competitive achievements and potential for future success in competitive cycling.

Haley Batten, Utah High School Cycling League, Park City High School Mountain Bike Club

Haley said, “The high school mountain bike league is absolutely amazing! There is so much kindness and sportsmanship, and fun. This has been an incredible experience for me and I want to thank everyone (involved) for all the fun, smiles and adventure given to me and others.”
To view Haley’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.

Justin Griffin, Utah High School Cycling League, Olympus/Cottonwood/Hillcrest Composite

Justin said, “I have raced mountain and road bikes for 10 or more years. High school mountain biking has some of the best atmosphere, exhilarating courses, these races are unparalleled in excitement and fun. NICA is truly changing lives. Drugs, obesity, bullying: NICA tackles these problems. I look around at the high school races and I can see the positive changes in those around me. I’m a senior now, but I’ll be back!”
To view Justin’s NICA Award acceptance speech, click here.