Monday, June 03, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> BMX champion teaches in Cabot

Leader sports editor

Dominique Daniels, the world’s No. 1 female BMX racer, wowed the crowd and put on a riding clinic at the Cabot racetrack at Lonoke County Regional Park on Wednesday. 

Daniels, a 20-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz., is in the midst of a nationwide tour of local tracks in an effort to grow her sport. Racing since she was 12, Daniels said she has already seen exponential growth in BMX racing.

“The numbers of competitors has grown substantially since I started,” said Daniels just before the clinic began. “Even at the little track where I started, there were maybe 25 or so regular competitors out there, and now it’s easily over 100. These clinics have also grown, from the number of clinics themselves to the number of people participating in them.”

Daniels only does the clinics during the summer. She is also a full-time student at Grand Canyon University, where she recently won the NCAA national championship for the second-consecutive year.

On their way to a national event in Nashville, Tenn., Daniels’ father and head trainer Tim Daniels contacted the city of Cabot about stopping on the way for a clinic.
Cabot track operator Jeff Gray said they jumped at the opportunity.

“We’d been reaching out trying to get some clinics,” Gray said. “The elite racers are very good about contacting local tracks on the way to these big events and doing things like this.”

The threat of rain kept attendance numbers low, and rain did somewhat hamper the clinic. Just a few minutes into the clinic, a huge rain blew through the area. It was gone in just a few minutes, but the track was no longer suitable for demonstration.

Daniels didn’t cut things short though. Instead she took riders and parents into the parking lot and continued teaching.

According to Gray, one of the most helpful things about the clinic was how much the 15 or so parents learned.

“A lot of the things they went over with us was different from some of the things these kids have been taught,” Gray said. “For example, what we’ve been taught for years about thrusting your hips forward, that was totally wrong. They made it a point to include the parents so we could be better informed on how to coach these kids.”

Daniels said the clinic is very basic, but that the basics are the most important thing to know to be successful.

“I basically teach them the same things I do every day in training,” Daniels said. “And we promote parental involvement. My dad has been working with me since I started at age 12, and he’s still my main trainer today.”

While the rain didn’t stop the clinic, it was disappointing to Daniels in another way, according to Gray.

“She was not happy that it rained,” Gray said. “She told us that we really have one of the nicest local facilities she’s seen, and she really wanted to get out there and ride that track.”

The Cabot track hosts races every Saturday with signups beginning at 6 p.m. and racing starting at 7 p.m. Entry fee is $7 per rider and first-time participants race for free.

Practices are held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and the track is open every day except Monday when the whole park is shut down for police firing range practice.