It has been awhile since I have contributed a blog article to this website; a year of grief, chaos, school, travel and sporting events keeping me from my passion of writing. Although I have not written here, I continue to visit this site and my previous articles to revisit just how far Nicholas has come as an athlete an individual and, more importantly, just how far our family has come as a "team".
Nicholas ended last season phenomenally, he finished National Age Group 2, National #32, NorCal State Champion and Redline Cup West #2. These are not titles gained easily, nor are they anything to come by lightly. National Age Group, or NAG as we BMX'er's call it, means your national ranking based on all the competing kids in your age group at National BMX events for that season. Nicholas races nine months of an eleven month season one age, then he has a birthday eight weeks before the biggest event of our season, The Grand Nationals. What does this all mean? Well, basically, it means that he races kids his own age all year then seven or eight weeks later, depending on when Thanksgiving weekend falls, he races kids in his new age group. Many of these kids, particularly the top riders, are getting ready to age-up also; so, technically he is closer in age to the kids he was racing than the kids he is newly racing. Last year he spent the bulk of his season the age of six, raced the Grands as a 7-year-old and finished behind two boys that were both 4-6 weeks away from turning nine. Yes, an astounding accomplishment but a mental fight all the way - especially for a Highly Sensitive Child. Being an HSC has given Nicholas many mental struggles as a little boy and as a competitor on the national level. He is incredibly accomplished, having won an unprecedented 56 National main events, but none-the-less he suffers from severe performance anxiety every time he gets on the gate to race.
Sidebar: from the last time I wrote, Nick was growing mentally by leaps and bounds and continues to, and although he finished his season #2 last year, he was tossed some incredible blows to his mental and physical well being. Aside from the typical jealous BMX parent anticts at our local track, he and his sister both came down with the chicken pox at our season opener race this past January. Devastated, we left Reno before Saturday's main event and came home to heal. One week later, we were in the UC Davis Children's Hospital with my daughter Zoey. Zoey had contracted a very rare brain disease, menengoencephilitis, with a survival rate of only 3%. While I lived in the hospital with my daughter, Nick's racing career was put on hold and he was shuffled from Grandparents to Auntie's to friends and back to Grandparent's home. He internalized many of his emotions over the near-death of his sister and when we did finally come home, we were focused solely on being together, not racing.
Well, Zoey did miraculously heal and continues to every day. And with the help of family Nicholas has been racing solidly since February. He has won 14 national main events in his Expert class this year, four in his Open class and an amazing three in the eight and under cruiser class - the only 7-year-old to ever win in this class.
Now, we are two months from the Grand Nationals and another season over and done with. We are also on the cusp of Nick's last National race as a 7-year-old, one week before his 8th birthday. We are off to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California this coming weekend for what poses to be one of the American Bicycle Association's biggest Nationals of the year. The classes will be huge, dwindling down to only eight precious spots in the main events and the spectators will be screaming at these kids from all over the race track. The event is broadcast live online and covered in just about every local publication. How is Nick today? He is awesome. Is he nervous? Yes, he is very nervous. What has changed as a HSC from last year? He is a year older, stronger physically and mentally, and he trusts his capabilities and knows that mom and dad wouldn't send him anywhere that he wasn't capable of winning. Because that is why he competes and travels and struggles: to win. My son is a winner, bottom line. No, we don't only care about winning but it is simply who Nick is. It is the only reason that after three years of broken bones, broken teeth, stitches, tears, hateful words from peers and parents, that we are still here as a family. To watch Nick do what he does best - win.
As a family we are committed to both Nick and Zoey's success in their schooling and extracurricular activities. Since last year's discovery of Nick being an HSC, we have coached ourselves as parents, changed how we do things, listened to Nick's fears, talked with him, slept with him, cried with him. Again, all the while supporting his desire to be the best. It is okay to push your child if that is what drives him and with Nick, it drives him beyond the capabilities of the average child his age. To sum it up: he is nothing short of phenomenal in his sport. Oh yeah, he is also an honor roll student, excelling in math and reading. He is also a mentor to many little boys at the track, taking the time to ride with them, play football between motos with them and just be a friend to them.
When our children develop sensitivities and disabilities, they do not need to stop everything and focus on "getting better". What they need to do is accept that it is part of who they are, learn to love themselves and all that they are, communicate with those closest to them and then, drudge forward, meeting each new day and obstacle as they come.
We leave for Southern California in two days and I have no doubt in my mind that Nick can win but it's racing and anything can happen. So, we go with positive thoughts, strong muscles, good nutrition, lots of sleep and a lot of love. Nothing is forgotten over the past year but miles have been ridden towards a new goal: satisfaction with who we are as a family and who Nick is as an individual.
Keep cheering on your child because at the end of the day, no one cheers like mom. :)