The Colorado High School Cycling League (Colorado League), which recently parted ways with NICA, has announced that they are partnering with USA Cycling (USAC). USAC’s sponsorship will run through 2023. NICA previously announced their own partnership with USAC near the end of January citing similar benefits.
“This is an important step forward in developing youth cycling programs and getting more kids on bikes,” said Rob DeMartini, CEO of USA Cycling in a press release. “There is no better time to come together and work towards a common goal to champion youth riding and racing and developing America’s next Olympians. We are excited at the opportunities this partnership will bring – for youth.”
The two say that the benefits of the partnership include a commitment to free USAC Junior memberships and discounted Family memberships for student athletes, which they hope will reduce barriers to competition and encourage participation. This will also formalize the recognition of Colorado League within the USAC ranking system and help older student athletes evolve into their next stage of riding and racing.
“USA Cycling’s increased investment in youth and collegiate programs is very exciting. We are extremely grateful for their 3-year commitment to support Colorado League programming and student-athletes,” said Kate Rau, Executive Director and Founder of the Colorado League. “The future is bright for the USA as we highlight the pathway to collegiate cycling and other USA Cycling programs. A fantastic example of this is that 6 recipients of an Alpine Bank – Colorado League scholarship will also receive a USA Cycling Collegiate license to further their participation in cycling.”
The Colorado League announced earlier this month that they would not be renewing their affiliation with NICA. They said in a statement that not renewing was a “business decision,” voted on by the League Board of Directors. The Colorado League was a NICA project from 2009-2011, but they became an independent 501c3 non-profit in 2012.
The Georgia High School Cycling League also departed from NICA this month and rebranded as the Georgia Cycling Association. Their marketing director Mike Riviello told Bicycle Retailer and News that their departure was more than purely a financial decision.
“Our local leadership team was able to execute a safe and successful 2020 race season,” Riviello said. “In fact, we were one of only three leagues in the country to have a complete race season (Utah and Minnesota were the other two). It was our best year ever with record-breaking participation from student-athletes. That achievement, combined with financial considerations, made us feel the NICA affiliation was no longer the essential component it once was.
NICA president Steve Matous told VeloNews shortly after the Colorado and Georgia leagues left that he wasn’t worried about any other leagues leaving NICA.
According to Matous, leagues pay $1,250 a year for total dues. The Colorado League said in their departure statement that “programs, sponsorships, and funding are developed and executed at the local level by Colorado League staff, coaches, and volunteers.”