Seventeen-year-old Nikita Ducarroz is one of the top female freestyle BMX competitors in the world. Last year, she landed her first backflip and is thought to be the only girl living in California to do so in competition. If the name Ducarroz sounds familiar, Nikita’s mother is Nicole Abate Ducarroz, a longtime trustee of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board.
“As long as I can remember I’ve always loved jumping my bike off of anything I could find, but when I was about 14, I finally decided I wanted to buy myself a BMX bike (pretty much out of the blue) and that’s when it all began.
“The BMX community is one of the best things to ever happen to me. You make friends from all over the country (even the world) when you go to contests. Even though we are competing against each other, if a friend beats you, there is no bad sportsmanship or angry parents, we are all happy for each other.
“I get bored really easily and with BMX that’s not an option as there is always something new to learn or something to improve on.”
Ducarroz attends high school online through CAVA (k12.com/cava). Can you tell us a little bit about why?
“I started online school my freshman year. I mainly chose it because of anxiety, but as the years have gone by I realized it was the best option to be able to pursue BMX as well.
“I can’t remember when my anxiety started to get really bad, it’s kind of been a blur, but a couple years ago I wouldn’t leave the house. Since then it’s been a long challenge to overcome all the little things that are hard for me, and I’ve been able to make a lot of progress, but I’m definitely not there yet.
“The first thing that motivated me to want to get out of the house was to go to the skate park. From there, I wanted to travel to more skate parks, attend more competitions, all of which I knew would be a huge challenge, but it’s something I really wanted. I feel like without BMX, I would have had no motivation to face my fears and overcome this.”
What is the best thing about online high school?
Definitely, the flexibility. I have a calendar of assignments that need to be completed, but I can choose if I want to do it in the morning, or at night, or the next day. Also, I can do my schoolwork in my room, at the skatepark, or in an airport. Anywhere that has WiFi.
“People always ask me about the social aspect of doing school online. I have friends from all over the world through BMX, who I see at competitions or when I go on road trips, and I also have a lot of local BMX friends who I see regularly at the skate parks. It’s the best option for me and it’s really been a good choice.”
Ducarroz is taking a full slate of honors and AP classes online and has made the (high) honor roll each year
You launched a clothing company in 2010. How did that come about?
“Honestly, out of boredom. I had just gotten my first computer, and decided to make a website called SonomaBMX that would connect the riders in Sonoma and post updates about the scene. From there it turned into my clothing company, FDV Clothing (fdvclothng.com).
“Three years later, I now sponsor a team of 10 riders from California, Ohio and Canada, some of whom have gotten top three in contests like the BMX Worlds in Germany, Toronto Jam in Canada and the Dew Tour contest in San Francisco. We have a larger selection of products, with more always on the way, and I’m really happy about the direction we are going in.”
What are your plans for this year?
“This past year has been really great; I did well at some good competitions and got a chance to ride demos at X Games in LA with some of my team. Up until now, I’ve only been competing in California because my anxiety makes it pretty much impossible to get on a plane. But I realized that before I turn 18, I want to try to get on a plane and get to some larger competitions out of state, and hopefully even two big competitions in France and Estonia.
“As for school, I’m in my junior year now, so I just plan to stay focused, keep my grades up, and start looking into colleges a little more.”
You seem like a girl with a plan. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
“Let’s see … five years puts me at age 22, so by then I really hope to have gone pro in BMX, become a firefighter/paramedic, and also to be in college. Right now I’m leaning toward becoming an athletic trainer. Of course I also want to continue running my clothing company.”
What else keeps you busy?
“I taught myself to play guitar, piano and drums and I like to sing, so I jam around every once in a while. But really at the moment it’s full on with BMX, running my company and school.”
What advice do you have for Sonoma students who might want to go an unconventional route?
“My advice is just to do what works for you. Everyone is different, so traditional school may not always be the answer, and you just sort of need to figure it out and go for it.”
I have a sense that your parents have been supportive of your choices. Tell me more about that.
“I have some of the most supportive parents ever. They let me be who I am and support me 100 percent. I knew there was no way that I could go to a regular high school. I found some online schools and was extremely lucky that my mom listened, and took a lot of time to call and research the schools to make sure it was best for me. She trusted me and has helped to make it the best experience I could have.”
Do you have a slogan or words to live by?
“One quote that really sticks out to me is by Albert Einstein, ‘Life is like a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.’”