BERKELEY, California (May 4, 2022) — The National Interscholastic Cycling Association is excited to announce six recipients of the annual Sparkle On Scholarship. In partnership with professional cyclist Kate Courtney, SCOTT, Syncros, SRAM, and Rockshox, the Sparkle On Scholarship recognizes graduating NICA student-athletes who have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence while giving back to the cycling community.
An-Mei Ellisor, Dane Grey, Nora Ellis, Elliot Crowder, Kiera Ramirez, and Zoë Harbertson will each receive $6,500, mentoring with Kate Courtney during their first year of college, and participation in a Sparkle on Scholarship summit focused on skill-building, on and off, the bike.
The cohort of Sparkle On Scholars is distinguished by their unique contributions to the sport of mountain biking, the cycling community as a whole, and the joy and determination they show in pursuit of their goals.
“I am honored and excited to announce the 2022 class of Sparkle On Scholars,” said Courtney. “With nearly 200 applications from NICA student-athletes across the country, it was a very challenging selection process but one that left me optimistic about the future of our sport.”
Courtney is a professional mountain bike racer for the Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team. Kate is the 2019 Elite XCO World Cup Overall Champion and the 2018 Elite XCO World Champion.
“Collectively, this year’s scholarship recipients truly embody the core values of NICA; inclusivity, strong minds, bodies, and character,” added Courtney. “In the cycling world, they are leaders in their communities – accomplished racers, trail builders, trail access advocates, GRiT mentors, team captains, youth coaches and more. Off the bike, they are intelligent and articulate students with diverse interests, but a shared desire to continue contributing to the cycling community as they transition to college.”
NICA is proud to work with such a passionate partner to grow the next generation of cyclists.
“When student-athletes have a strong support system, it is amazing what more they can accomplish,” said NICA President Amanda Carey. “ NICA is so grateful for Kate’s mentorship and support of these outstanding student-athletes and the pursuit of their future goals.”
An-Mei Ellisor is thrilled to receive the Sparkle On Scholarship. She is a senior at Auburn High School in Alabama. She loves everything to do with traveling and the outdoors. In order to follow those passions, An-Mei will be attending and racing for Fort Lewis College, beginning in Fall 2022.
“To succeed in a sport you must have fun doing it,” said Ellisor.
Dane Grey fell in love with mountain biking his 8th-grade year and started riding with a local NICA team, Saint Francis High School of the Southern California League. Dane now travels the United States competing in the UCI circuit and will attend Fort Lewis College in 2023.
“NICA has brought a lifelong family and community that has shaped me as a person and competitor,” said Grey.
Nora Ellis is thrilled to be receiving an Associate's degree in History and graduating from Linganore High School, Maryland, this summer. In the Fall, they will begin their first semester at Warren Wilson College where they plan to study environmental science. After three years of riding with NICA, Nora is excited to continue mountain biking as an Owl at Warren Wilson. Nora says their dad tried to get them interested in mountain biking, however it didn’t fully stick at first.
“After trying hard for many years, my dad is incredibly grateful that NICA has succeeded where he failed in getting me to actually enjoy mountain biking,” said Nora.
Elliott Crowder has grown up in a bike shop and has a strong passion for all things bike-related. He plans on continuing his education at the University of Oregon Clark Honors College to obtain a degree in Political Science in pursuit of a Law Degree and participate in trail stewardship projects.
“I love NICA because of the friends I've been able to make, some of whom I have nothing in common with except for the love of mountain biking,” said Crowder. “Sometimes it feels like the fun we kids have with each other, not the races themselves, are the main feature of the weekend.”
Kiera Ramirez will soon finish up her last season in the NorCal League. She shows great appreciation for cycling and the opportunities it presents. This fall, she is college-bound and eager to pursue collegiate racing as a future Mustang at Cal Poly.
“Cycling, in a nutshell, has offered me an overwhelming amount of opportunities and I truly owe my accomplishments and endeavors to the supportive circle around me,” said Ramirez. “I am forever indebted to NICA, my coaches, and my endearing family for nurturing my love for cycling.”
Zoë Harbertson grew up in the Wasatch mountains of Midway, Utah with three brothers. She started biking on the Wasatch mountain bike team as a freshman in high school and has raced with NICA ever since. She has developed a love for all things outdoors, but especially an instilled passion for cycling. After she graduates high school, she is going to explore Europe for the summer and plans to attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado to race on the cycling team.
“As a NICA athlete, I was never the best or winning,” says Zoë. “But the times I crossed that finish line with the biggest smile on my face, [I knew] that I pushed everything in me those days. [That] is something I will never ever forget. And [it’s] a feeling I want to chase forever.”