CHENANGO COUNTY – This 2016 spring sports season welcomes a potential new face to the list of high school and middle school level athletics, competitive Mountain Biking.
In 2001, Matt Fritzinger, a math teacher at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California began an after school biking program for his students. Fast forward to 2016, and Fritzinger's once simple after school program has evolved into the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), while also making its way east across the United States. The sport has even now begun to grow in Central New York.
“Founded in 2009, The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) is the National Governing Body for grades 9-12 interscholastic mountain biking and fosters the development of high quality competitive cross-country mountain biking programming for high school aged athletes. NICA provides leadership, governance and program support to promote the development of interscholastic Mountain Biking Leagues throughout the United States,” reads a description of the association.
The sport has now found a home in Chenango County, where a composite team consisting of roughly 12 middle and high school age students from Sherburne, Norwich, and Greene – as well as two coaches – have taken the initiative to continue the spread of this sport.
Rob Baker, a Shurburne-Earlville graduate and retired United States Marine of 25-years now living in Plymouth, and Boris Trifunovic of Greene have taken it upon themselves to team up and head the “Chenango Composite” team for the 2016 sports season.
“When I was down in Virginia in the Marines I got into mountain biking and did a lot of it out in California too. When I came home I still liked to do mountain biking and learned of this NICA thing starting up in New York and became interested,” said Baker. “I was going to start it last year, I am a retired Marine now but I still work for the Marine Corp., so travel with work prevented me from doing the league. This year, I was contacted by Boris Trifunovic who was also interested in it, so between Boris and I, we discussed starting up this Composite Chenango team."