Collegiate Cycling - A History
The USA Cycling Collegiate program, now in its 23rd year of official existence, evolved from the National Collegiate Cycling Association (NCCA), which started in 1985 and was represented by a standing committee of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF), which was the national governing body at the time. NCCA had a non-voting representative on the USCF board of directors, and volunteers ran the organization.
Collegiate cycling, and the spirit behind it, predates these formal organizations, though. This enthusiasm for bicycle riding by students at the collegiate level was begun in earnest as a result of a partnership between a Yale graduate student and a bicycle dealer in New Haven, Conn. Their efforts were responsible for the introduction of bicycle races and the collegiate cycling club organization concept. In the early 1960s, the Eastern Intercollegiate Cycling Association was founded as a single spring race which was developed into a racing series. In 1962, West Coast participation flourished after the second annual Western Intercollegiate Cycle Meet took place at UC-Davis, Calif.
In the 1970s, collegiate cycling operated under a committee of the American Bicycle League of America. This informal structure, however, was not able to sufficiently accommodate the expansion and development of the sport at this level. In 1985, the directors of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Federation and the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference combined efforts to persuade the USCF of the necessity to develop a national collegiate program. As a result, a sub-committee within the USCF organizational framework was founded - the NCCA.
Membership fees were initiated to establish the NCCA budget, enabling USCF staff to take responsibility for the daily maintenance and development of the collegiate cycling program. Responsible for the continued progress and development of collegiate cycling were NCCA Committee members, NCCA staff, and the 10 conference directors.
It was also at this time that the South Central and the Southwestern Collegiate Conferences were established. A short time later, the Midwest, Northwest, Rocky Mountain, North Central, Southeast, and Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conferences were also established. In 2009, the Inter-Mountain Conference was also added, bringing the total number up to 11. The first collegiate track national championship was held in the fall of 1987, followed by the road championships in the spring of 1988. Here the tradition of championship competition was begun. Collegiate cycling has sponsored the track championships in the fall and road in the spring ever since. In 1994, the inaugural National Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships were held in Castaic, Calif. 1996 saw the addition of the National Collegiate Cyclo-cross Championships in Seattle, Wash.
In 1991, the NCCA sent riders to Spain to compete in the World University Cycling Championships. In the American collegiate athletes' first appearance at these games, the cyclists took home gold medals in the women's pursuit and the men's road race, and a bronze in the points race. Since that time, the NCCA continued to broaden its membership base. The NCCA encouraged new athletes to get involved in cycling and establish new clubs on collegiate campuses across the nation.
In 2004, the USA Cycling board of directors voted to recognize Collegiate as a separate association within USA Cycling with voting representation on the USA Cycling board. This transformed the NCCA committee to the NCCA board of trustees. As Collegiate grew, USA Cycling committed more resources to support the program by hiring a full-time Collegiate Cycling Program Manager in 2006 to oversee the collegiate cycling program. Collegiate cycling is now a fully integrated USA Cycling program with specific licenses for collegiate athletes for exclusive use in collegiate races.
USA Cycling Collegiate provides racing opportunities for collegiate riders in track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, and road in 11 conferences across the country, with national championships held each year in each discipline. Collegiate cycling, which offers a low pressure, fun introduction to the sport, has proven an effective entry point for riders who eventually become long-term competitive bike racers after college. More than 6000 current USA Cycling members' first license was a Collegiate license!
The Collegiate program has been a consistent talent identification pool for some of cycling's future stars. Over the years, USA Cycling has conducted talent identification camps specifically for top Collegiate women. “Alumni" from the Collegiate program have moved from Collegiate to the elite athlete development pathway and become some of the biggest stars in cycling. Such standouts include 2001 mountain bike World Champion Alison Dunlap, Tom Danielson, Ted King, Willow Koerber, Amber Neben, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Heather Irmiger, Katerina Nash, Brent Bookwalter, Todd Wells, Tim Johnson (just to name a few) and most recently, Mara Abbott, the first American woman to win the women's Giro d'Italia.
This Article Published June 9, 2011 For more information contact: