GCU has a new slant on recruiting…signs top BMX racer

Lots of college kids buy themselves a bicycle to get around campus.  But a Mesquite High School grad has used her bike to get into college.

Dominique Daniels was actually recruited by Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.  But who knew the school even had a bicycling team?

Well, actually, GCU didn’t recruit Daniels for a team sport.  But their announcement last week that Daniels would be attending the school this year did say they recruited her.

Daniels is the No. 1 female BMX rider in the country and, since the age of 14, has won just about every event there is to win… amateur world titles, U.S. amateur titles, USA Cycling titles in both junior and elite divisions, and twice the American Bicycle Association Pro Champion.

She turned professional at age 15 and won her first professional BMX title at 17.

Now she has set her sights on the 2012 Olympics and is considered one of America’s top prospects to represent her country in London.

And that’s what apparently attracted the recruiting folks at GCU.  They see Daniels as a representative, not only of the U.S., but also for the college.

The college also wants to show its commitment to the growth of non-mainstream athletes.

“We are ecstatic to have an athlete of Dominique’s ability,” said GCU Athletic Director Keith Baker.  “Premier athletes, whether BMX or any other sport, are fortunate to have the choice of when and where to attend school, and we’re glad she chose GCU.”

Daniels is an all-around athlete, even though she is focused on a non-mainstream sport.  She also participated on the track team at Mesquite, running the sprint events.  In her sophomore year, she finished 15th in the preliminaries of both events at the 5A-I state meet.

Her daily workout routine includes jogging, weight lifting, speed training – with a little kickboxing mixed in.

Daniels had hoped to be able to compete at the 2008 Olympics, which was the first year BMX racing was included as an event, but she had to be 19 years of age in order to qualify.  Her appeal to the U.S. Olympics Committee to lift its age restrictions failed, and she was left to beginning planning for 2012.

While she waits, she continues to compete in as many major events as her schedule will allow.  She has also begun training that will enable her to qualify in multiple cycling disciplines.

And soon she will find out how difficult it is to juggle a college education with sports participation.  But, after all she has accomplished since she first started racing on a used BMX in 2004, who would dare bet against her making it work?

GCU is betting a full-tuition scholarship that she will.

(Photo: BMX News)