3 August 2020
Hello Arkansas NICA Community!!
As we have been navigating the current pandemic environment and the requirements that go along with it, the leadership team of the Arkansas NICA League has come to some conclusions and decisions about what we hope the season will look like. Of course, this is all still subject to change.
We are thankful that our activity is outdoors and requires no contact. As a result, we have been able to put guidelines into place to allow practices to be open fully with some modifications of how we do things.
Our teams and coaches have been working diligently to ensure the safety of our student athletes by:
- Wearing a mask and requiring student athletes to wear a mask when not riding. Keeping physical distance at all times if possible.
- Helping student athletes be more self-sufficient by bringing all their own water, hand sanitizing, and supplies.
- Organizing practices into smaller groups (and getting more coaches to the Level 2 and 3 certification to make this possible!).
- Checking coach temperatures before practice.
The Arkansas League has accelerated the adoption of a program called Local Dirt. Local Dirt are small grassroots adventure and race scrimmages run by local teams and trained for risk management and operations by NICA. Local Dirt is an exciting opportunity to bring NICA to our communities on a smaller scale that otherwise would not be exposed to a full scale NICA championship event. We have wanted to do this for some time because we know the key to growing in new areas is to bring our programming closer. The COVID-19 pandemic caused us to move quickly to put these smaller events into action.
This is an optional program but it is where most of the events of our season will be this year. Teams are required to nominate a local dirt coordinator who is not the head coach and will be trained to run small events in order to participate.
We have divided the league into 6 regions:
- North and East – Jonesboro, Heber Springs, Batesville, Mountain Home
- Central – Little Rock, Hot Springs, Benton, Hot springs Lakeside, Catholic
- I-40 Corridor – Conway, Russellville, Fort Smith
- NW Arkansas – North – BHS, BWHS, Rogers, Thaden, Pea Ridge, Arkansas Arts Academy, Providence Academy
- NW Arkansas – South – Fayetteville, Springdale, Haas Hall, Siloam Springs, Tulsa
- NW Arkansas – Middle School – Lincoln, Washington, Grimsley, Fulbright, St. Vincent, New School
The cost of local dirt is included in the cost of season registration.
Our Race Production Team is planning to stage one large-scale racing event for the season. It will be a very different kind of event than we have produced before; it will be a time-trial style race with middle school and high school racing and awards ceremonies separate. We will follow all the protocols set in the Arkansas State Department of Health directives for large outdoor events. Among other things, we will require masks and social distancing at the event. Things will be different, but at this point the race production team is confident they can put on a safe and fun event that should go a long way in making a 2020 “season” out of a very difficult situation. We ask for your understanding and cooperation as we plan and communicate.
In March we announced that stewardship hours will be a part of the racing team awards. This will continue to be true. See our Stewardship Page for more information, and student athletes and teams should be emphasizing this aspect of our programming.
The location and date for this event will be announced in the next couple of weeks, and at that time we will open registration in the pit zone. There will not be a season pass as we announced early in the spring.
- Engage in team programming as you are comfortable.
- Find out from your coach if they have opted into the Local Dirt Program. If they have not, volunteer to help so that your team can participate.
- Continue to save your NICA weekend dates for NICA (September 12 & 13, October 3 & 4, October 17 & 18, October 31 and November 1). Our time trial race date will be one of those weekends and local dirt events will likely be on those days.
We hope this adds some clarity to your expectations of NICA and our fall season. We are excited about what the fall holds even though we are disappointed the current circumstances prevent a full season of programming.
Kyla, Terry, Glenn, and the Arkansas NICA Team