April 2021 Coach News

Hello Coaches!

Things are heating up as the AR-NICA league officially enters the 2021 preseason. Coaches are coming out of hibernation. Families are beginning to ask when things will begin. Outreach events have been happening in new communities. The Girls Riding Together (GRiT) program is also underway with female ambassadors and coaches. Our loaner-bike fleet got a bath and tune up last weekend. Excitement is building!

Nearly 30 of our veteran coaches came together in March for the coach retreat in Bentonville to learn and collaborate with each other. Thanks to those that attended and contributed to the success of that event. Continue reading to learn about our April coach retreat at Mt Nebo and additional coach training events.

Coaches have also been registering on PitZone and completing their yearly training opportunities. Last week, PitZone opened for families to register student-athletes. Team activities can now begin and info about the preseason event form is below.

Thanks for all you do as an AR-NICA coach.

Ben Tufford and the Arkansas Team


Next Coaches Call, April 7th at 8pm CST

The next coaches call is scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday April 7th. All coaches are invited to join this Zoom call as we all prepare for the next season. Here is the agenda. Please let us know if there are any topics you would like to discuss.


PitZone is open for student-athletes

Head coaches and team directors can now invite families to PitZone. Remember, an invite to join has to be sent from PitZone. Consider carefully how you initiate this process. PitZone allows you to quickly send invites to all student-athletes from last season. It may be best to start a dialog with families first to review expectations and see if they remain interested.


Preseason activities can begin

The preseason is when coaches and student-athletes get reacquainted, plan for the upcoming season, and get team activities underway. Teams are permitted to have up to six preseason activities before the regular season begins on July 1st. These may include meetings, bike safety checks, mechanical workshops, try-it-out rides, or skills sessions. All preseason activities shall be submitted to the league director using the Preseason Activity Form.

New student-athletes and coaches can fill out a one-time waiver to participate. Reminder, this is for student-athletes and coaches to participate one time. They should be registered on NICA PitZone to continue with their next team activities. Links to the electronic waiver or printable .PDF can be found here.


Coach Retreat at Mt Nebo

Building on our success of the Bentonville Coach Retreat in March, we are excited to head to Mt Nebo on April 10 & 11 to repeat the weekend for coaches in central Arkansas. Retreats consist of Saturday workshops and Sunday OTB skills or NICA First Aid training. All coaches are encouraged to attend although these retreats are intended most for returning coaches. Click here for more details and registration.


Leaders’ Summit Registration is Open

The AR-NICA Leaders’ Summit is scheduled for June 5 & 6 at Thaden School. This annual event is where coaches come together to learn about the league, how to start and manage a team, and network with other coaches from around the state.

There will be multiple tracks for the weekend and a’ la carte options to satisfy the various needs of many coaches. Check the registration page here for more info and to get signed up. Don’t wait as our numbers are a little restricted to ensure the safety of everyone attending.


Online Leaders’ Summit provided by NICA National


NICA is offering additional leaders’ summit options in May. Similar to their Jan/Feb offerings, attending the series of webinars will satisfy the coach license level 3 leaders’ summit requirement. Coaches that have attended a leaders’ summit previously can earn continuing education units (CEUs) for each session they attend. The series is repeated at two times to accommodate coach schedules and time zones. See the calendar of seminars here. You must register for each session that you plan to attend.


OZ Trails Pro Cup Preview Ride

The Oz Trails US Pro Cup presented by Experience Fayetteville is hosting back to back weekends of racing, April 10-11 and April 17-18. These events will attract top female and male athletes in cross country racing while also providing additional categories for amateur athletes. You can see the full schedule of races at

NICA teams and student-athletes can experience the event by spectating for free, previewing the amateur course during select times, or volunteering during the event.

Here are several different ways to do that:

  1. Volunteer at the race by signing up at
  2. Volunteer for the NICA Expo tent the league will be hosting throughout both weekends of racing at (insert link)
  3. The event staff have set aside two separate times for NICA Team Preride Sessions on the amateur courses (that includes a few appropriate sections of the pros course!). Fill out the preseason event form to reserve your spot:

Thursday, April 8, 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Friday, April 16, 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm

You can choose your time within those ranges, we will make sure you know where to go.

Here is a link to the course:

For more info on the event you can contact Brannon Pack with Experience Fayetteville at


Let’s Play Bikes at Oz Trails Pro Cup Races

BikeNWA is looking for volunteers to support their Let’s Play Bikes area at each of the Oz Trails Pro Cup race weekends. Here is a link for student-athletes to volunteer. Another link here for adult to volunteer.


Bike Loaner Applications Are Open

Through the generosity of donors and sponsors, Arkansas NICA has been able to build a small fleet of bikes to be used by student-athletes who otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience the benefits of mountain biking with a team.

More information and an application for coaches to complete can be found on the AR-NICA website here.


The Spoke’n Word Podcast presented by Arkansas NICA

The latest episode of the Spoke’n Word podcast was released this morning. I sat down with Tim Keith of the Lincoln Junior HS team. Hit the image below to see the complete lineup of episodes.


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