Race Day with the New York League at the Wyndham Season Finale. Photo: Steve Matous
Dear Team NICA –
There is a lot to CELEBRATE this month. On behalf of all of NICA – CONGRATULATIONS to all of the NICA Seniors graduating in 2021! We are incredibly proud of you and grateful for your dedication and involvement with our community. You’ll have an opportunity later on to meet some of our outstanding NICA Seniors.
We recognize the hard work our Spring Leagues put into adhering to their local health department guidelines to ensure that all NICA events went off safely but also continued to provide fun, inclusive and welcoming opportunities for our student-athletes. Thank you and congratulations to all the student-athletes, coaches, parents, volunteers and especially league race staff!
This month NICA is also excited to welcome three new staff members to the National Team. We welcome Chris Mileski, Vice President of Field Operations, Xavier Melendez, Director of Brand and Marketing, and Phil Hynes, Coach Licensing Manager. Chris and Phil both come from our League Director ranks and Xavier did a significant amount of consulting with us during 2020 so all three are familiar with NICA’s mission, organization and people. These new hires strengthen our efforts to support our teams, programs and leagues across the country.
Next month, we look forward to celebrating the sport of mountain biking as we will have the opportunity to watch three NICA Alumni compete in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Kate Courtney from the NorCal League and Haley Batten from the Utah League will be representing the United States of America and Sofia Gomez-Villafane from the NorCal League will be representing Argentina. As you tune in to the Olympics later in July – be sure to cheer on these phenomenal athletes!
Best Regards, Steve
What’s New Across NICA
Sparkle On Scholars (L-R): Darcie Bushee, Justin Peck, Gwendolyn Sepp, and Toby Hassett.
Sparkle On Scholars Announced
Congratulations to the first class of Sparkle On Scholars – Darcie Bushee from Idaho, Toby Hassett from Colorado, Justin Peck from NorCal, and Gwendolyn Sepp from Utah! The Sparkle On Scholarship presented by Kate Courtney recognizes graduating NICA student-athletes who have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence and plan to attend college and continue racing mountain bikes. The first class of Sparkle On Scholars are distinguished by their unique contributions to the sport of mountain biking and the joy and determination they show in pursuit of their goals. Learn more HERE.
NICA National Welcomes New Staff Members
We are excited to welcome three new members to the NICA National Staff. Chris Mileski, Vice President of Field Operations, Xavier Melendez, Director of Brand and Marketing, and Phil Hynes, Coach Licensing Manager.
Photo: Chris Mileski
Chris Mileski, Vice President of Field Operations
Chris Mileski joins NICA National after founding the Missouri Interscholastic Cycling League in 2018. A six-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Mileski graduated from the University of Arizona in 1997 and went on to a diverse career in the health, wellness, and sports performance industry. He’s spent much of his career working with a myriad of professional and Olympic athletes, spent time with IMG on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour, worked with USA Track & Field, and finally owned and operated an elite training center of his own to continue his focus on sports performance, physical therapy and endurance coaching.
In 2009, Chris began a seven-year tenure as Program Director and Head Coach of the nationally ranked, division I, cycling team at Lindenwood University. After winning 7 national championships at the school, Mileski was elected to the Lindenwood Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. Chris continues to coach athletes worldwide, including SoCal NICA alum and 5-time collegiate national champion Hannah Rae Finchamp.
Mileski is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach, USA Track & Field Sprints/Hurdles Coach, NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, BICP Level I Instructor and a NICA Level 2 Coach.
Chris currently resides in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In his spare time, he loves riding bikes with his wife Kerri and son Kolce, and spending time with their two doods, Ben and Nash.
Photo: Xavier Melendez
Xavier Melendez, Director of Brand and Marketing
Xavier earned a liberal arts degree from Hunter College CUNY with a major in Media Studies and received a professional certification from New York University in Business Project Management, a PMP accreditation. A seasoned marketing executive, integrated producer, project and operations team leader, and successful business owner with 20+ year track record, Xavier has extensive experience delivering engaging on-brand storytelling through high impact marketing communications, TV commercials, experiential events, and innovative digital initiatives for groundbreaking online start-ups, big five advertising agencies, and Fortune 1000 companies.
Having started riding as a teenager Xavier is a lifelong avid cyclist who practically eats and breathes all things bicycle. As an active board member of Bicycle Colorado, he works diligently with the organization to give back to the cycling community and to help make roads safer for all users. Xavier can often be found riding mile after mile training for his latest obsession of epic gravel and marathon MTB races.
Photo: Phil Hynes
Philip Hynes, Coach License Manager; Coach, Team Development
Phil found his love for riding bikes while establishing a paper route in the 6th grade where he rode his bike 364 days a year for the next 6 years. After a career as an Infantry Officer in the United States Marine Corps, Phil relocated to Marin County, CA where he was introduced to Mountain, Road and Cyclocross racing with an Elite Masters Cycling Team. During his professional career he has held progressive Executive Leadership roles in the Healthcare and Fintech Industries with an emphasis on technology and rapid growth.
Phil was the founding Head Coach of the Truckee MTB Team during the inaugural year of the NICA Nevada League (2016) and held the position of League Coach Supporter for 3 years. In 2020, he took over as the League Director for the Nevada League, Northern Conference.
Phil holds an Economics degree from the University of Illinois and resides in Truckee, CA with his 2 daughters. When not at work or with his daughters you can find Phil on his bikes, snowboards or surfboards.
GRiT To Know Your Bike Campers. Photo: Denile Hill
GRiT to Know Your Bike in Kentucky!
Earlier this month the Kentucky League hosted a GRiT to Know Your Bike Camp where over twenty student-athletes and coaches gathered for two days to get their hands dirty and learn how to work on their bikes. The camp was a hands-on event during where participants were taught mechanical bicycle skills by professional female mechanics.
Campers working on bikes at the GRiT Camp in Kentucky. Photo: Beth Pride Ford
Participants learned how to change flat tires, work on chains, adjust derailleurs, the mechanics of brakes and other important skills including pedal installation. The weekend camp also included plenty of time to play games, design name necklaces, dance at a s’mores disco and make new friends! Many thanks to our friends at the Rapha Foundation for providing NICA a grant that made possible our GRiT To Know Your Bike Camp, as well as many other GRiT events and projects in other NICA leagues around the country.
Be sure to check in with your League’s GRiT Coordinator to see what fun summer GRiT events are planned in your area!
Congratulations NICA Class of 2021
Congratulations to NICA’s Class of 2021! We are incredibly proud of all our graduating student-athletes and wish them all the best as they step into a new chapter in their lives. Thank you NICA Seniors for your dedication and commitment to your teams, leagues and the national NICA community! Click HERE to get to know some members of NICA’s Class of 2021!
Clif Family Foundation Renews its Support for NICA
We are excited to announce that the Clif Family Foundation has recently renewed its support to NICA! The grant will provide general operating support and help us increase our work to diversify our NICA community. “The Clif Family Foundation has been a longtime supporter of NICA and its efforts to expand and diversify cycling in the United States,” said Carrie Walle, senior grants manager with the Clif Family Foundation. “We recognize the important role that NICA plays in supporting healthy communities, and look forward to watching that develop in the year ahead.”
Thank you, Clif Family Foundation, for your incredible partnership and commitment to our work!
Say Hello to Shimano HYPERGLIDE+
Looking for precise and smooth shifting in all riding conditions? Look no further than the Shimano HYPERGLIDE+! Shimano’s HYPERGLIDE+ revolutionizes shifting performance with seamless shifting both up and down the cassette, so riders can shift under load more confidently while riding, thinking less about shifting and more on the trail ahead! Click HERE to learn more!
West Virginia GRiT Coordinators help a student-athlete fix a flat. Photo: Jodi Mondy
Continental Tire is Getting #moregirlsonbikes!
Continental is proud to support NICA’s Girls Riding Together (GRiT) Program to increase participation of women and girls in mountain biking! Thanks to their support GRiT Coordinators like West Virginia‘s Jodi Mondy and Mia Fox have been able to host flat tire clinics and other fun activities for GRiT student-athletes. Thank you Continental for providing tires and swag for our GRiT Coordinators across the NICA Community!
NICA exists by virtue of our generous sponsors, boosters, foundation partners and individual donors.
We are extremely grateful for your continued support of our mission to build strong minds, bodies, character and communities through cycling. Consider supporting NICA or your favorite league today and help us impact the future of cycling!