Michelle Williams - Co-Founder and League Director - started riding a road bike in 2000 once the bike trail near her home in Ridgeland, Mississippi was nearing completion. After her first 4 mile bike ride she thought she had won the Tour de France! Michelle soon realized how much fun the social side of cycling was. She began organizing group rides for new cyclists including a women’s monthly beginner bike ride. Road biking and touring was Michelle’s main cycling passion, so much so that she participated in tours across Virginia (2004), Wisconsin (2005) and Iowa (2015), in Alaska (2012), around Lake Michigan (2014) and two Transcontinental tours (2010 and 2016) in addition to many other smaller tours around the US. Needing a break from the monotony of road biking in 2016, she fell in love with mountain biking. Michelle quickly learned that mountain biking required more skill and focus than road biking and participated in several skills clinics. She came to realize how powerful the art of riding technical trail was. Mountain biking allowed her to face fears she had never known, riding downhill and over rocks was especially challenging at first. Learning to overcome these fears, or at least address them, was a powerful tool and confidence builder - not only on the trail, but in everyday life. Soon, she began riding mountain bikes with her grandsons with the hope to teach them the love of the trails and the confidence to face their fears. As soon as her oldest grandson, Aidan, was old enough to participate with the Mississippi Blues Composite NICA team in 2019 (2020 racing season), Michelle became active with the team as a level 1 coach becoming the head coach in 2020-2021 season. As a coach, she began to see how important mountain biking could be for kids, especially ones who had not been active in a sport before becoming involved with NICA. Michelle believes that participating in NICA allows these young athletes to face their own fears, as well as celebrate their successes while learning the life skill of setting and reaching realistic goals. It is due to these attributes as well as the accompanying high fives and wiping away tears, that she is passionate about starting a NICA league in Mississippi.
Selena Swartzfager - Co-Founder - is the founding Team Director of Mississippi’s first NICA team where she obtained the Level 3 NICA Coach designation. Selena began cycling in her early 20’s and even raced a time or two. She took a big break in her 30s and resumed cycling in her 40s as an activity she could do with her sons. Since this time, she has raced in the Gulf South Series races and even won the series as a Cat 3 40+ racer in 2019. In addition to mountain biking, she also enjoys gravel cycling where she won the Mississippi Gravel Cup Series in 2019 in the Athena category. While she is no longer racing bikes, she loves the adventure aspect of cycling and looks forward to bringing more student athletes to this inclusive sport in the state of Mississippi.
Her favorite quote: “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready” - Will Smith.
Keith Rogers - Board of Directors/Chief Course Setter - is a retired Army Aviator and currently works as a Regional Environmental Manager for the VA. He began riding mountain bikes as cross training for off-road motorcycle racing and riding and fell in love with it. Keith has been instrumental in building trails in the Jackson metro area and has led the development of the Brandon Quarry and volunteers hundreds of hours each year building and maintaining our local trails.
Brandon Welch - Board of Directors - is a wholesale distribution manager, and also serves on the board of directors for Crescent Lake Improvement Association in Meridian. He has a son and a daughter. He got into mountain biking two years ago and learned about NICA from the owner of the local bike shop. He and his son ride trails three times a week and join local group rides every chance they get. He also helps maintain their local trails.
John Tatum - Board of Directors - has been a fan of bikes since he learned to ride at age 5. He rides trails more than any other style, but also enjoys gravel and pavement. A coach on the North Mississippi Gnarmadillo’s Mountain Bike Team, he’s happy to share his enjoyment of two wheels and woods with the kids. A railroad signalman during the week, he can usually be found on the trails on the weekend, either riding, running, or doing maintenance with other MTB enthusiasts in the Oxford area. Aside from helping the team members with their skills and speed, he hopes to get them involved in trail building and maintenance as a way to keep the next generation engaged in the community.
Tracy Hicks - Board of Directors - is the mom of two young men. Her journey into the cycling community started as an adult. Growing up in Clinton, MS, she rode bikes in her neighborhood for fun without racing or formality. Tracy never dreamed that as an adult she would be zipping around berms or climbing mountains on a bike all over the country. After first tagging along with her son to his MTB team practices over 6 years ago, she also began to find the joy in riding bikes again. As her son grew in the sport, she became more involved and soon became a coach on the Mississippi Blues Composite MTB team. Riding bikes has been a very special avenue to spending precious time with her son while gaining skill and seeing the country. Racing and riding bikes teaches competence, resilience, perseverance, accomplishment, camaraderie, and so much more. Serving the MS Blues MTB team athletes has been a joy and a learning experience for her. The opportunity to see the kids gain physical strength and mental character through cycling and competition has created a spark to get more kids on bikes. When she is not on the bike, she is a physical therapist that primarily works with neurologically affected patients. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Keith, for 24 years and counting. He too has begun to ride bikes so she will have a riding buddy when their son goes off to college. Riding a bike has no age-limit!! “See you on the trails.”
Zack McRaney - Board of Directors - is a recovering triathlete and the President of the South Mississippi Trail Alliance (SMTA). When not riding or running on the local trails, Zack can be found doing maintenance work to the trail systems or purveying content for the club’s social media pages. Growing youth involvement in the sport is a priority, as two of the SMTA trail systems are located in close proximity to city centers in Petal and Hattiesburg.