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Meet the Team

Sam Pole
Operations Manager

Sam started mountain biking at twelve when his parents got him a 26″ ridged single which he still has. He grew up in Austin riding on the single track and then moved to Montana where he grew to love the technical climbs and downhill runs. Sam has been involved with NICA since 2018 when his son joined the Waco team, Heart of Texas Jr. Cycling. Sam has a background in base operations for one of America’s largest ski resorts and enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to fill the open spot for operations with the Texas league. Sam is proud to be involved with youth and their growth and progression in mountain biking. He believes the accomplishments of these junior athletes transcends into every part of their lives.

Patrick Skarren
Staging Manager

Patrick is an intermediate recreational mountain biker who rides for fitness and fun. He has been involved with the league since 2018. His oldest son races with the league and Patrick joined as a volunteer after observing how the league works. When asked why he volunteers, he simply said, “I have a blast working race weekends.” His family loves riding together and exploring new places and trails.

Jim Sliger
Chief of Scoring

Jim serves the Texas NICA league as the chief of scoring and has been involved for four years.  He got involved with NICA when his son got involved and counts his years as a biking coach as his biggest accomplishment on the bike. Jim enjoys cross country and trail riding and has embraced the opportunity to help develop student-athletes through mountain bike racing. He and his wife has two kids and two dogs. Together they enjoy camping and working out.

Rob Wessels
Chief Course Marshall

Rob is still trying to dry out the trails. Come back later to learn more about him. 

Ron Robbiano
Chief Course Setter

Ron has been involved in NICA for ten years after attending the first ever Texas League Leaders Summit at Reveille Peak Ranch in 2011 with his daughter Cambria. He’s a founding coach for the San Antonio team. Rob believes NICA is a fantastic community to be a part of and that being part of a program that keeps the wheels rolling in the right direction for the youth of this generation is a blessing. Ron loves riding cross country with his wife, three children and two grandchildren.

Kim Skarren
Volunteer Coordinator

Kim has been involved in the Texas NICA league for four years. She started as a parent and then joined the league as the volunteer coordinator in 2021. She first became involved to support her son, but quickly got immersed herself. She rides mountain bikes recreationally with her family and NICA teams. She has have two boys, four dogs and three cats. Kim’s other favorite hobbies are baking, crafting and DIY home improvements.  

Shanin Cole
Registration Manager

With a league as big as Texas, registration is a big task.  Shanin is still matching numbers to names. 

Jurgen Heise
Chief Race Official

Jurgen is the first, and only, head referee for the Texas NICA league since race #1. He is a USAC- and UCI-trained International Commissaire, and has worked national championships, world cups, and world championships. He has embraced the opportunity to contribute his experience to the grassroots movement that NICA presents. A life-long cyclist, Jurgen has done pretty much every kind of riding. He was a Cat 2 road racer and Cat 1 mountain bike racer. Some of his accomplishments include several Texas State Championships, a podium at nationals and participation in the Masters World Championships in Austria. Jurgen’s late wife, Judy, shared his love for cycling and developing young riders.

Cole Camp
Parking Manager

Cole and his two daughters have been riding with NICA for four years.They started with the Amarillo Yellowjackets and then started the South Metro Cyclones after moving to the DFW area. Cole rides mountain bikes and road bikes for fitness and fun. Riding with his daughters reignited a love for riding in Cole and he gets better technically and has more fun each year because he’s trying to keep up with the kids. Cole believes the NICA community is unparalleled for teaching respect and fun while learning to push to be a better athlete. Cole, his wife and girls will see you soon on the singletrack.

Steve Morton 
Race Photographer

We aren’t sure if he’s hiding behind a lense or still editing photos, but we hope to learn more about Steve soon. 


JJ Cawelti
Marketing & Development Coord.

JJ is a mom, recreational mountain biker and coach for the North Texas NICA team.  In her day job, she works as a communications, marketing and public affairs executive for DFW International Airport. JJ’s kids joined NICA to enjoy mountain biking with others their age and it soon became a passion for them and mom. JJ believes in the mission and vision of the Texas NICA league and wants to see more kids on bikes. When not riding bikes, she can be found spending time chasing her family of six to races, baseball games, gymnastics meets or choir concerts.  

Suzanne Johnson 
Race Announcer and Communications

Suzanne has been involved with Texas NICA since 2017 when her daughter first joined the Bowie team. She started volunteering and later decided she was ready to coach. Last year, she started serving as the race announcer and enjoys seeing the kids glance over when their names are called. Suzanne has always been involved in her kids’ activities and NICA and biking has been her favorite sport to be part of. Suzanne loves to ride bikes and rides mountain bikes, road bikes and BMX. When her kids were little she would join them on bike rides to school every single day, rain or shine. They all now ride with a group called 512 Wheelie Crew twice a week. Suzanne’s son has two more seasons left to race NICA and she is looking forward to every second.

Rick McGrath
Race Announcer

Rick has been involved in NICA since 2019 after he and a friend decided to start a team in Prosper, TX. The team and Rick’s responsibilities have quickly grown since that time with Rick recruiting more than 100 riders in North Texas and working to elevate the overall impact of the league. He is motivated to build a fierce league that gives every kid a place to grow, ride and find themselves. Rick mountain, road and gravel bikes. He has ridden across Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, down a Volcano, along the Grand Canyon, and has finished the Hotter N Hell 100 six times. Rick and his wife have four kids, three dogs and only five bikes.

Mike Bannister 
Announcer and DJ

Mike grew up racing dirt bikes on cross country trails and motocross tracks. He began mountain biking in the 1990’s while stationed in California and later Alabama. He is an avid downhiller and cross-country rider. Mike has ridden mountain bikes in 15 states, across all kinds of terrain and elevations. He got involved with NICA in 2019 when his son, Luke started racing with NTX Cycling. He believes that being part of NICA is being a part of a true community. We have fun together, learn from each other, take care of each other and always have each other’s backs. He and his wife Kristin have three kids and in his free time, mike does audio engineering, is a DJ and race announcer.

Doris Brazzale
GRiT Texas Coordinator

Doris is a recreational road and mountain biker. She and her daughter have been involved in NICA since 2018 when they went to watch a race in Troy and quickly fell in love with the sport. Doris believes the League is an amazing tool to educate and develop kids. She loves the way they are encouraged to respect, help, and support each other. Teaching kids to react to and overcome situations on the trails, can be associate with the real life: life will knock you down, and it is up to you to get up and keep going. Doris is an army widow and mom of three. She and her children moved from Italy in 2012. In addition to serving as a NICA GRiT coordinator, Doris is as a Gold Star Families Program chairperson for the 173d Airborne Brigade.