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. 

Best Sportsmanship, Ava Scott, Redwood High School

What an amazing year, and what an amazing community. For me, each race is like a reunion with old and new friends. I love the camaraderie and support we always give each other. Whether it is a friendly nod at the start or a big hug at the finish, we are always there for each other. This year I especially felt that support after a few challenging races and I tried to pass along that same support to others. I am humbled to have received this sportsmanship award and will do my very best to honor the award every time I ride my bike!

Coach of the Year, Maggie Swarner, Annadel Composite

I was incredibly surprised and flattered by this award. This community brings mountain biking and friendships together, two things I hold close. NorCal and Annadel Composite have become a large part of my life, and my famil. I volunteer with a great group of high school, development and GRiT coaches, so the time spent working with coaches and athletes is positive and uplifting. All of our coaches and volunteers for the whole team work tirelessly to make the season happen for our young athletes. When working with student athletes I enjoy finding creative ways to engage and recruit more girls into this amazing community. Mountain biking and racing has brought me much joy, we can see this sense of happiness radiating in our athletes. This award reminds me the work we do at practice, events, GRiT specific events and race weekends does matter and makes a difference. You can watch and witness the skillsand abilities but more importantly the confidence and friendships build within your team. I grew up in a family of strong women and now find myself surrounded by boys within my immediate family. Leading GRiT has reminded me of what we are all capable of on mountain bikes and how mountain bikes can lead to great gains outside of riding and empower athletes of all genders to work hard and gain confidence in all aspects of life. Coaching gives me a new sense of energy outside of the work day. I look forward to more mountain bike seasons with young athletes so that they can see what they are capable of and to remind them to have fun and be true to themselves along the way.

Team Spirit, North State Composite

If you were to join our amazing North State Composite team, what would “team spirit” look like? Well, you would be inducted immediately into our culture of inclusiveness, fun, and 100% positive team atmosphere. All cross town school rivalry is immediately shelved. Our parent volunteers deck you out in team colors, earrings, handlebar duckies, socks, you name it. Your ride group votes on the coolest name, like Mountain Goats or Quack Attack. Your group coaches even order matching shirts to celebrate the vibe of your group. Once a week, you join our team-building circle, give and get kudos, drill down on the focus of the week and end with a group cheer that the whole park can hear. You play games like Foot Down and Amazing Race, and eat your heart out at team BBQs and destination rides. All of this so that when you come to a NorCal race, you are smiling and prepped to cheer your loudest for both our team and for every other team on the trail, wearing your neon tutu, shades and mesh gloves. North State Composite is a true family, cultivated to support, applaud and represent our Chico community in the brightest of light. Thank you NorCal for the honor of Best Team Spirit!

Challenge Accepted, Iris Greiner, El Cerrito

I really appreciate this award because when I first started mountain biking two years ago I had no experience or any idea that I would love the sport so much. My first few practices with the tean were very scary since I barely knew how to ride a bike. My coaches and teammates always told me that it would get better. That I just needed time, practice and patience. They were absolutely right. During my first few months I couldn’t go over technically challenging rocks out of fear. I’m not sure when I decided to finally just go for it, but once I did it, I realized it was actually fun. From there I kept trying more and more and having more fun. When I returned for a second year, I realized at my first race how much I improved from the beginning. I had gone from finishing near the end in my first year, to finishing in the top 20. I felt so happy but also so grateful. I felt grateful for my father who is a coach on the team, to the other coaches, and to everyone on my team. They are all a large reason why I enjoy the sport so much. I am grateful I have a community to share my love for this sport with.

Soul Rider, Tatum Reale, St. Helena Thunderbirds
Receiving this award, especially as a senior means the world to me because of the challenges that I have endured over the past few years. Simply put, I began experiencing respiratory issues, on top of asthma, as of last year and was in and out of the doctor. To me, biking is and has always been an outlet for me to understand my feelings and further process my thoughts. Throughout this time of uncertainty, I was still biking due to the comfort the sport has given me. Last year, I took a break from the cross country NICA racing and decided to just show up to the races and support my teammates and peers. This let me see a different side of racing. I saw the hard work of the people behind the scenes and grew a greater understanding of the hard work that goes into race day.
Sierra Paliaga, GRiT Advocate, Humboldt Composite

Hi, I’m Sierra Paliaga! I started riding 4 years ago through the Humboldt Composite Mountain Biking Club, and 2023-2024 was my third season as a Girls Riding Together (GRiT) Ambassador.

Trail Boss, St. Helena Thunderbirds

The Trail Boss award is extremely valued among the Thunderbirds. We have a great deal of ownership of the awesome trails and wild spaces that we ride in, so we always want to work hard to support them! This last couple of years we have had a great deal of downed trees due to the snow storm and subsequent wind storms. Much of our trail work was done early in the season; cutting down branches, clearing brush and repairing the trails. We had to work hard to make the trails even accessible.