Board of Directors


Jerry Pomije – Chairman

Year of birth: 1965

City/State of Residence: Prior Lake, MN

City/State of Birth: Faribault, MN

Day Job: President – Q Enterprises, Executive Vice President – Quality Bicycle Products, Inc.

Jerry has a passion for coaching and mentoring kids and getting them excited and engaged in activities that they can learn and grow from. He has been actively involved in coaching and supporting youth activities including  baseball, football, basketball and outdoor environmental retreats. He is now thrilled to be a part of building the NICA High School Mountain Bike League.

As a Senior Executive for Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) since 1997, Jerry helped QBP rapidly grow into one of the most successful and respected companies in the bike industry. He is excited to share his skills in vision, strategy, execution, finance and operations to help NICA grow.

With many mainstream high school sports limited to a select few athletes, Jerry’s vision for NICA  is to see it grow into a new inclusive mainstream nationwide high school sport. NICA brings a great opportunity to engage kids in a healthy life long sport and lifestyle.

The early great success of the NICA League has created a rapidly expanding demand for new leagues. Jerry expects to use his skills to help NICA meet that demand and grow to its full potential.


Susan Helm-Murtagh – Vice-Chair

Year of birth:  1964
City/State of Residence:  Chapel Hill, NC
City/State of Birth:  Danville, KY
Day Job:  Adjunct Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Gillings School of Global Public Health)

Susan Helm-Murtagh is the president of NICA’s North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League and previously served as vice president at Mosaic Health Solutions (a division of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina), where she was responsible for building and managing — through acquisition, investment and development — a portfolio of health solutions products and services centered on information technology, analytics and consumer engagement. 

Susan earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and management science from Duke University and her Master’s degree in management (with distinction) in marketing and finance, from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.   Finally, she holds a doctoral degree in public health from Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susan is on the Board of Visitors for the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the boards for Girls on the Run of the Triangle and Triangle Bikeworks, and is President and Board Chair for the TriCyclists Bicycle Racing Club in Chapel Hill. She is also a competitive cyclist and multi-sport athlete; she has been competing in road, mountain, cyclo-cross, and multi-sport events at the regional, national and world level since 1995.

Trevor Thorpe – Secretary

Year of birth: 1967

City/State of Residence: Kensington, California

City/State of Birth: New York, New York

Day Job: Attorney, Thorpe Law

Trevor began his racing career as junior rider in Northern California with Vigorelli-Zullo, GS Mengoni, and Plymouth-Reebok. He raced collegiates for UCSB winning nine national championship medals over three years including gold medals in the team, team time trial, and road racing categories. In 1990, he was a member of the road race winning team in World University Games in Majorca. In his career as a Family Law attorney, he considers himself fortunate to be able to practice law with members of his family at Thorpe Law.

Having begun a 14-year cycling career while a freshman in high school, he knows first-hand how much young riders can benefit from a supportive and well organized racing program. As an attorney, he is in a position to advise NICA regarding legal matters, help with organizational and rulebook issues, and advise on formalizing contractual relationships.

Trevor advocates the NorCal model that started it all. “The NorCal League got it right. It is as near to a perfect high school sport as I can imagine. There are throngs of cheering supportive teammates, coaches, and family members at the races—and while highly competitive, the level of camaraderie and support between teams and riders is extraordinary. Competitors from different teams support and cheer each other on, which creates a communal atmosphere at the races that lets the riders be at their best. Student athletes of all levels are able to have a positive sporting experience that will stay with them the rest of their lives,” he says. His vision for NICA is that it preserve the NorCal experience for the athletes and replicate it in other regions across the United States.

Careful management of opportunities and enthusiasm to form new leagues is needed in the years immediately ahead, says Trevor, to protect the NICA vision. “This organization has to find its legs in the next couple of years to not only establish new leagues that replicate the experience, but to also serve our existing leagues in a meaningful, sustainable way. NICA wears many hats and running such a multi-faceted organization with so many leagues has its challenges.”

Thomas Zirbes – Treasurer

Year of birth: 1960

City/State of Residence: Los Altos, CA

City/State of Birth: Clinton, IA

Day Job: Financial consultant

Tom started his career in 1980 and has been with North Star Resource Group since 1987. As Regional Vice President of the St. Paul Division he maintains a national practice with clients in multiple states with help from his practice management team. He is one of the founding members of North Star Law Division specializing in the complex and ever changing needs of Attorneys, CPA’s, Trustees and the families they represent. He is also a member of North Star’s Medical Division specializing in the needs of physicians and medical professionals. The North Star Law and Medical Divisions bring together experienced financial advisors who collaborate with members of the legal and medical fields every day, devoting their time and expertise to find customized solutions to the obstacles faced by these professionals.

In addition, Tom is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals©. He was also named as one of the top advisers for Dentist’s in 2015 (Dental products report magazine). To meet the need for financial guidance from the professionals in this industry, Tom co-authored the book Real Life Financial Planning with Case Studies with North Star Senior Partner, Todd Bramson in 2009.

Tom takes an all-encompassing approach to planning which involves every aspect of your financial life, and more. It is based on the premise that one can’t get the most value out of their money without first knowing what purpose(s) their money serves. Armed with clarity of the client’s purpose, intentions, values, and goals, Tom coordinates the advisor team’s efforts to develop a single, comprehensive strategic plan. That plan correlates the unique passions and purpose of the client’s life and financial resources with retirement, investment, and estate planning strategies entwined with tax and asset protection solutions. Aligning privately-held business goals with personal goals helps to create higher potential to design a successful succession plan, develop an optimum transition team, and realize retirement goals sooner. Tom splits his time between Minnesota and California where he is active in both communities serving on both charitable boards and foundations.

Sara Ecclesine

Year of birth: 1972

City/State of Residence: Carson City, NV

City/State of Birth: Honolulu, HI

Day Job: Brand manager, SIDI America

Now the US brand manager for SIDI America, Sara Ecclesine has had a 17-year career in the cycling industry that includes working for a global manufacturer, distributor, subsidiary, and at retail as a buyer and fit specialist. While at Specialized she was central to the development of the women’s bicycle line. A persistent focus of hers has been to make cycling more accessible to more people.

She raced for 10 years on the road, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, and track. Additionally, Sara has taught beginning mountain biking, run weekly women’s rides, taught bike maintenance classes, participated in and organized trail work days, and promoted a mountain bike race. She is currently involved in trail running and ran her first ultra in July of 2009.

Sara has some key objectives in her ideas for NICA’s future. “I want to see NICA bring more girls into the sport, and I want NICA to give kids that are typically under-served by high school athletics (whether it’s scrawny climbers or beefy descenders) a place where they can benefit from the physical and emotional development of team sports,” she says. A former participant in the National Collegiate Cycling Association, Sara also sees some potential parallels for NICA at the high school level.

“Kids who learn mountain biking in high school grow up to ride centuries or do 24 hour races or commute by bike. NICA can start them on that journey.”

Rick Spittler

Year of Birth: 1953

City/State of Residence: Richmond, CA

City/State of Birth: Sacramento, CA

Day Job: Social Entrepreneur, Organizational Consultant

Stricken with polio as a baby, which affected the use of his left leg, Rick grew up using the bicycle as a way to “keep up” with the other kids running around the neighborhood. He has continued to be an avid cyclist, commuting to work on his bike as well as riding mountain and road bikes for recreation.

As a social entrepreneur, Rick has been the founder, executive director and board president of numerous non-profit organizations. Much of his work has been on increasing sport and recreational opportunities for youth on a local, regional and national level.

“In terms of Youth Development, the values, policies and standards for excellence established by NorCal are the reasons I am so inspired with this opportunity to work with NICA. These values include, the promotion of girls participating equally, fostering responsible use of trails and wilderness and contributing back to the community. With NICA, everyone pitches in.”

Rick will be using his organizational building skills to prepare NICA to reach it’s full potential and bring High School Mountain Biking, Coast to Coast by 2020.

Eric Russell

Year of birth: 1976

City/State of Residence: San Anselmo, CA

City/State of Birth: Eugene, OR

Day Job: Director of Sales, Clif Bar and Company

As a 16+ year veteran of Clif, Eric, has played many different roles.  Starting out co-managing their sponsored athlete program, he currently heads up their sales efforts in the Specialty Retail and Foodservice segments, which includes the traditional bike/run/snow shops as well as breaking new ground in airport stores, healthcare, corporate campuses, colleges, and other non-traditional outlets.

This experience with breaking new ground is something that Eric believes he can bring to NICA, which in June 2010 did not have a template for operating at the national level.

Back in 1999, Eric worked in marketing for Clif Bar and sponsored the Berkeley High team, which Matt Fritzinger used as the model to create the NorCal League. “We’ve stayed in as a sponsor ever since. To see what it’s grown into and what Matt’s been able to do with it, it’s phenomenal. I have an emotional attachment,” he says.

Eric’s vision for NICA is an organized network of competitive high school cycling teams, coast to coast, with recognition and support by school districts, that results in fostering a supportive and positive environment for both the student-athletes and their families. “There’s a great empowerment in getting kids on bikes. Lots of people have no access to outdoors and nature – just to be that connection would be huge.” And while he acknowledges the need for a structure, he sees sufficient flexibility within that to encourage regional differences. “We’re 50 states, not one big state. There are going to be different dialects, accents and flavors.”

In Eric’s view, early priorities for NICA will be creating a structure that will accommodate the growth of demand. “We’re figuring things out, but new things will come up. We need to get a good structure in place.”


Dan Brooks

Dan Brooks is the co-founder of the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League and a businessman in Atlanta.  In addition to overseeing a diversified portfolio of investments for his family, Mr. Brooks serves on the board of directors of Cell Constructs, a biomaterials company focused on regenerative medicine; New Constructs, a financial technology company; RPS Environmental Solutions and Grain & Barrel, LLC.

Mr. Brooks began his career as an attorney for King & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia, in their corporate division supporting clients such as The Coca-Cola Company, Sprint, Kimberly-Clark and Georgia Pacific.  He then transitioned to general counsel of American Tower International, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation (NYSE: AMT), where he helped develop businesses in South and Central America, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Africa and India.  Since leaving American Tower, Mr. Brooks has served as Chief Executive Officer of Cold Smoke Capital, LLC, and The Family Office, LLC.

Dan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, from The University of the South at Sewanee (with highest honors), and his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University. Mr. Brooks lives in Atlanta with his wife, Lisa, and three sons, Sam, Marley and Cash.