The Idaho League will be conducting a middle school pilot program during the fall 2014 season. The program is intended to introduce middle school aged riders to the sport of mountain biking, with the focus heavily on skills, fun, fitness and NICA’s “Spirit of Howdy,” and a small taste of the competitive aspects that they will find when in high school. The goal of this pilot is to assess the pros and cons of incorporating middle school programs into the Idaho League’s activities.
For the 2014 season, middle school student-athletes may participate in the Idaho League by practicing with existing registered high school teams or forming clubs at their schools. Middle school student-athletes are encouraged to attend high school races, pre-ride courses and enjoy the excitement. Any middle school student-athletes who have fully registered and paid fees in the NICA Pit Zone are eligible to participate.
Middle School Policy and Background
To address the growing interest from the constituency from throughout the country to provide guidance and leadership for a middle school cycling program, NICA and its leagues have developed and adopted a Middle School Program Policy based on the following premises:
- NICA and its leagues are first and foremost a high school interscholastic association, with high school students as the focus.
- High school students are a unique age group with specific needs and interests that deserve a program of their own.
- The Middle School Program Policy is locally driven and may differ from League to League.
- NICA licensed high school coaches are given the ultimate decision whether or not to include middle school students in their practices.
- For purposes of this effort, middle school is defined as 6th, 7th and 8th grade.
While each of NICA’s leagues holds a race series, our philosophy is to balance competitive and non‐competitive pursuits related to mountain biking. At the middle school level, we want to de‐emphasize the competitive aspects of the sport even more. Instead of focusing on the competitive angle first and then trying to build in other factors we would rather focus on the other factors first and introduce the younger riders to competition slowly. Though some kids relish competition, many do not. We would prefer the kids get excited about cycling before being expected to compete. We want middle school programs to focus on fun, fitness, skills, and responsible trail etiquette and sportsmanship.
In light of the preceding, we want our middle school program team structure to be more flexible than at the high school level where teams look more like traditional high school sports in form and practice and are strictly bound by rules governing their composition and training.
Definitions for the Idaho League Middle School Pilot Program
- “Middle School” applies to student-athletes in 6th, 7th and 8th grade in the fall of 2014.
- NICA Pit Zone is the online data management system the Idaho League uses to collect and track coach / team / rider information (everything from coach training to building rosters to registering student-athletes for events).
- There will be no middle school races during the 2014 season.
- The Idaho League 2014 season begins on July 1, 2014, and ends November 23, 2014.
Parameters of the Idaho League Middle School Pilot Program
Middle school students may join the Idaho League and participate in one of two ways:
- Joining an Existing Registered Idaho League Team – Middle school students can join existing Idaho League teams that are registered and have fees paid in the Pit Zone. High school teams accept middle school riders at the team director’s discretion. They are not required to accept middle school riders. Once registered, the middle school student is permitted to practice with the team and will be insured while riding under the supervision of a NICA licensed coach. Check the Idaho League Neighborhood Map for a listing of the existing teams and their locations.
- Middle School Club – Middle Schools can form a Mountain Bike Club/Team:
- Middle school clubs pay $50 to register their teams with the Idaho League. Email League Director Mike Perry for more information.
- Middle school clubs, once registered in Pit Zone and having received their insurance policies, can begin practices.
- Each student on a middle school club will have to register in Pit Zone.
- All Idaho League student-athletes must submit a signed standard waiver to their coach before participating in practice.
- Once a club is registered and its participants have submitted completed waivers and paid their fees, insurance will be in effect for the practices held during the season.
How to Register Middle School Riders
Rider registration is only possible after being invited by a coach or League Director.
- Teams already registered in the Pit Zone can invite new middle school riders to register onto their team by using the “Invite New Riders” feature on the team dashboard.
- Riders receive the invite link via email. To log-in to the Pit Zone system, riders should click on the invite link and set up a login and password as instructed.
- Follow the instructions to register. Fill out all information in its entirety through each screen.
- Middle schoolers need only pay the $10 “NICA Membership Fee” and the $15 “League Registration Fee” (middle schoolers can not register for any races). Proceed to checkout to pay via credit card or check.
- Once you have registered, the Pit Zone system will email a set of waivers to be signed and mailed in OR you can go to your dashboard in the Pit Zone to download those waivers.