Start a League

Starting a NICA League in your community isn’t hard, if you remember to start small and think big. The first League began with five students, but the vision quickly unfolded and after 10 years NICA has 31 leagues, over 22,000 student-athlete and approximately 11,000 registered coaches. Everything learned in 10 years is now available through our New League Development Program including valuable resources, training and risk management to assist visionaries build a strong and sustainable league focused on youth development.

Starting with this last round of bids, we have identified that NICA has more diversity than ever in the structures and make-up of founding groups launching NICA leagues in 2020, 2021. While this has brought great possibilities in fast-tracking the NICA mission, it has also added challenges.

To address these and other challenges, the NICA national office staff and board have updated our new league training and launch process to be more inclusive, robust and streamlined. When these updated processes were shared with Mike Kuhn, the PA League Director and owner of the Transylvania Epic, he shared, “I wish I had this when I launched my NICA league!”

In summary, the path to your inaugural NICA season follows this path. It starts with a bid submission, progresses to when you are an emergent league and once half of the benchmarks are met, you’ll progress to be a project league when we’ll announce your inaugural race season dates. The exact specifics are outlined below:

Bid Submission (18 to 24 months prior to first season)→Interview→ Bid Approval→ Discussion of Provisions→ Contract Execution/League Start-Up Fees Paid (12 to 18 months prior to season)→ Background Checks for Key Staff→ Press Release→ Emergent League → Training Benchmarks Met (6 months prior to season)→ Project League → Race Season Announced

While due dates for next round of bids have not been shared, we recommend you submit your bid 18 to 24 months prior to when you’d like to launch your inaugural league season.

Like what you see? NICA can certainly help to steer you on the right path. Contact Chris Spencer for more information including invitations to monthly bid introduction calls and access to the NICA Bid Development Resource Page.


Not ready to start a League? The ground-up method to building a League involves starting a high school mountain bike club in your region. The NICA Indie Club Program allows high school mountain bike clubs in all 50 states to enjoy the same insurance and other benefits as NICA Teams. For more information, go to the NICA Indie Club Program page.