After spending a few years as “Adult Supervision” with the El Cerrito, California NICA high school mountain bike team, I am a true believer in their work. Currently, girls represent 20% of the NICA national student-athlete participation. This is great compared to participation in other segments of our sport, but could always be better, right? On that note, I present the following press release.
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.
GRiT Panel at the 2018 National Conference. Photo: Todd Bauer / TMB Images
NICA has been extremely effective at establishing middle and high school cycling programs in 25 state and regional leagues over the last 7 years. 2018 NICA programs are projected to include over 15,000 registered student-athletes and nearly 7,000 licensed coaches. While the number of student-athletes participating in NICA programs has grown nearly 30-40% annually, the overall percentage of female student-athletes participating has remained consistent at 19-20% for the entirety of NICA’s existence.
NICA programs, although successful in retaining females once they join, are not currently reaching as many girls and women as they should. In order to recruit and retain more women and girls into NICA programs, it must change some aspects of its programming and recruiting to invite girls and women to ride mountain bikes. With help from the Walton Family Foundation, a number of other sponsors and NICA leagues across the country, NICA is now making a concentrated effort to increase the number of girls and female coaches in NICA programs. The GRiT Program is NICA’s approach to recruit and retain more girls and female coaches in NICA programs.