Every year, the NorCal High School Cycling League asks registered student-athletes, volunteers, and coaches to nominate their colleagues for a few NorCal League Awards. These awards are not based on athletic performance, but rather on a multitude of other attributes that makes one an incredible teammate, competitor, coach, or team.Please enjoy reading a bit from each of this year’s North and South Conference NorCal League award winners!

 

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Soul Rider: Aida Kowlaski  [North]

Redding Composite

I love to mountain bike because it is a sport that includes everybody. Mountain bikers are the nicest and most accepting group of people that I know, and that is why I love my team. I feel very honored to win this award because it means that my team mates have the same respect and friendship for me, as I do for them. I hope more people will start mountain biking because they will form friendships that will last them a lifetime, and that can be hard to come by outside of the mountain biking family.

 

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Soul Rider: Jesus Cisneros [South]

Skyline High School

Thank you for this award and opportunity! To me, the mountain biking team feels like we are a family because we support each other as teammates and beyond.

 

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Coach of the Year [North]: Otis Guy

Drake Pirates

I appreciate being named to this award, though for me this is an award given to the team and all the coaches, parents and our team captains who have created a culture that is positive, supportive, about getting more kids (and parents) on bikes and having fun. The team set a goal to have 50% of the team be girls by 2025 and this year the team was 34% girls. Our team captains go through nearly all the training that coaches do.

Without the foundation laid down by Norcal and NICA, all of us wouldn’t have this opportunity.

 

2018 Norcal Award

Most Supportive Teammate: Zach Felton-Preiston [North]

Annadel Composite

What I love about being on my mountain bike team is the camaraderie. When I joined the team it was like everyone was already friends. Both at practices and races, biking is a place where I receive support just as much as I give it. Biking has been a way of connecting me with other people so I’m always trying to support others so that they can feel the same way.

 

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Most Supportive Teammate: Anders Bjork [South]

Piedmont High School

I feel proud to have been a part of the amazing high school mountain biking community for the past four years. I try to make sure that all my teammates are included and encouraged in the same way I have been!

 

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Coach of the Year [South]: Jim Warwick

Salinas Cowboys

Winning this year’s “Coach of The Year” award was truly a surprise as I have always served as an assistant coach during my 11 years! I was honored that Vanessa presented the award to me as we both have a long history with the league. Seeing the various teams, parents and coaches applauding was amazing but hearing our Cowboy team chant my name was absolutely surreal. It is an honor to serve student athletes everywhere.

 

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Team Spirit Award: Richmond Composite [South]

This award is a great privilege for Richmond Composite. We were a new team this year and thus we set simple goals-have fun and be safe. Safety was relatively easy, and so we spent more time on the fun part. Having fun took innovation and a collective attitude of gratitude from each and every member of the team. We were so lifted by the entire league this year, especially our neighboring teams (Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and El Ceritto) and so we are honored to be recognized for the small but positive contribution we could make to the League.

 

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Team Spirit Award: St. Helena Thunderbirds [North]

We are honored and shocked that the St Helena Thunderbirds received any award much less an award for Best Team Spirit in 2018. In hindsight the
team did spend considerable time while not training (and in some cases instead of training) scouring the local Dorcas thrift store for proper attire for the season. We look forward to continuing our traditions and attending to all that is entailed in this honor.
In the words of one of our first year riders: “This is the best thing that anyone has ever talked me into”.
Onwards!

The St Helena Thunderbirds.

 

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Most Improved Rider: Ryan Chaney [South]

Monterey Bay Lightfighters

The Monterey Bay Lightfighters has always been more than just a “team” to me, we have become a tight-knit family. The way everyone motivates each other and pushes each other to become better riders is something truly amazing. At every race, the entire team is always out cheering each other on and celebrating the victories, while understanding what the riders are going through after they have a bad race. The camaraderie of this team is something really beautiful and is something that cannot be found many other places.

 

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Most Improved Rider: WIll Ingram [North]

Granite Bay Grizzlies

The best part about joining the team was the friends. Everyone was kind, from the other racers to my own teammates. Also, the coaches were extremely helpful, they were able to help everyone on the team to advance their skills in a fun fashion. Overall, it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anybody.

 

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Best Sportsmanship: Gabriella Dube [South]

San Ramon Valley

Participating in the mountain bike team has been the best part of high school for me; I’ve met many of my best friends and made many of my fondest memories at races and practices. The community and energy on the team and at the races is contagious and makes the experience unforgettable.

 

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Best Sportsmanship: Zach Baum [North]

Tamalpais High School

The feeling I get when the team circles up before races and gets pumped up, this is what I love most about my team. We do our pep talk, we discuss the course, we make a plan for the day and do a cheer. It’s what I’ll remember most from high school mountain bike racing. It has given me a sense of community, it has taught me about myself as the leader I’m becoming, it has shown me that life is about stoke, and that people and relationships are all we have. Mountain biking has put me on a good track; I’m grateful for what it has done for me.

 

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NorCal Achievement Award: Sadie Van den Bogaerde [North]

Granite Bay Grizzlies

What I love most about being on the mountain biking team is the mountain biking community I’ve found because everyone I’ve met in the league or just out on trails are all so friendly, encouraging and share such a great love for our sport and having fun. I’m really honored to have been nominated for this award because I know so many other riders in the league who are skilled cyclists in addition to having other interests and being talented students.

 

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NorCal Achievement Award: Dylan Fryer

Drake Pirates

I feel honored that my peers think so highly of me and since my goal as a captain this year was to get as many new people on the team as possible I think I definitely succeeded. The NorCal League has been a really important part of my high school years and I’m so glad to see it flourish throughout the country.

 

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Challenge Accepted Award: Porter Mickel [North]

Placer High School

The thing I loves the most about being on my high school mtb team iss that it gave me a great opportunity to make new friends and spend time with existing friends in the outdoors!

 

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Challenge Accepted Award: Alexa Albert [South]

Albany High School

This season has really been hard for me because my breathing difficulties have prevented me from doing my best. That was always something that I could count on in previous seasons. Even if I was having a bad day, I could always give it my all and leave feeling that I had performed to the best of my abilities on that given day. This season was different, and it was really painful for me. I would finish races feeling that I could have done better, but was held back by forces beyond my control. It felt really frustrating and futile.

Winning this award meant a lot to me because it reminded me that there is more to racing than how you finish. It showed me that even though I felt that I couldn’t be proud of how I performed this season based on final race standings, I could feel proud of myself for persevering despite the challenges I faced. Maybe I could have done better. But I finished every race I started. Honestly, that was more trying to me physically and emotionally than success under normal conditions would be. And that is something to be proud of.

 

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Most Improved Rider: Grace Murphy [North]

Spartans Composite Team

Riding with my high school mountain biking team has allowed me to gain confidence and leadership. Besides, it’s just fun. My teammates are terrific. And the success I have enjoyed is pretty cool too!

 

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Most Improved Rider: Isa Hoffman [South]

Berkeley High School

The best thing about being a part of the Berkeley High School team is the amazing community of my supportive, rad teammates and coaches.

 

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Trail Boss: Andrew Tilley [North]

Redwood High School

Norcal racing has been a real hootenanny that challenged me in a multitude of ways.

 

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Volunteer of the Year: Jeremy Yergler

Placer Foothills Composite

It was a huge honor to be named 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Maybe I was just an over zealous “rookie” parent/ride leader, but I would like to think that it was because my family has really felt the welcoming arms of our team, Placer Foothills and NorCal, as we have stepped into the league for Christian’s freshman season. I can’t begin to tell you how much we have enjoyed the team spirit, camaraderie, and competitive family atmosphere this season and yes….we are hooked. With two more boys in line behind Christian we look forward to working for our team and for/with NorCal for a long time!

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