Athlete Spotlight: Cory Coffey- Balancing Motherhood and Riding Ramps

“Riding ramps” is how her kids describe what she does. Cory Coffey is riding ramps and jumps and more on the UCI BMX Freestyle circuit as a member of the USA Cycling National Team. She’s also a mother of three.

“Being a mom and being an elite athlete is hard. It takes good planning in regard to training and riding and lots of extra help,” she said. “I have an incredible husband who is able to help a lot, and without my husband’s support it would be impossible to continue.

“Our family always comes first, so we try and keep it balanced. We take extra time with each child and always try to sit and eat dinner together and talk about our days. It’s also interesting returning to riding after just having a baby – the hormones are very interesting to say the least. But, that’s a whole other topic.” 

Coffey’s three daughters enjoy watching her ride. Jovi, age 5, Coco, almost 3, and six-month-old Elly, will cheer her on at events, along with her husband, Stephen McGee.

 “During my first year on the World Cup tour I made the podium a lot and was able to return home with medals,” she said. “I would place the medals around their necks and they felt amazing as if they had won something. That was a lot of fun.”

Coffey began racing BMX at age 14. She soon realized she enjoyed riding jumps and skateparks over racing around a track, and she transitioned to freestyle where she would often be the only woman competing.

In 2001, at age 19, Coffey became the first woman to land a backflip in competition. She has since won two World Championships in Freestyle BMX and finished the 2016 season ranked second in the UCI standings. Last year, Coffey was named to the USA Cycling National Team. 

The sport, the bikes and the athletes have evolved, and now BMX Freestyle Park will be part of the Olympic program for Tokyo 2020. Coffey’s career and focus have also progressed, and she has applied a more structured training program to her busy days.

“My training has changed over the course of the last few years,” she said. “I used to just ride my bike and never think about training outside of that. Now, I’m very focused and work on a 6-day week program that my rad strength and conditioning coach has in place. I’m in the gym training and on the bike as much as I can.”

When she’s home, she’s balancing parenthood with her training schedule. When she’s on the road, Coffey is keeping in touch with her family via FaceTime, text messages and swapping video messages with her husband. She also regularly posts to Instagram Stories, which her husband will share with their girls.

“Before I was a mom I would travel to any contest at any time. I never had to think twice about it,” Coffey said. “My family comes first in my life, so everything needs to be planned out a little more in advance. Also, now that we have a baby, I have to make sure the baby has enough milk while I am gone because I’m a breastfeeding mama.”

This year, Coffey has already traveled to Hiroshima, Japan, and Montpellier, France, to compete in the first two rounds of the UCI BMX Freestyle Park and Flatland World Cup series. Five World Cups are on the team’s schedule this year, leading up to the World Championships in November in Chengdu, China.

Through each step of her career, Coffey has remained focused on having fun. She hopes to teach her daughters the same and for them to “have fun no matter what they are doing and to always try something before they say they can’t.”

It’s advice she would also give to other parents.

“Have as much fun with your kids as possible,” she remarked. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed at times, but it’s all so worth it in the end. Take one day at a time, and if that’s rough, take it hour by hour and moment by moment.”

Coffey has had many memorable moments on her bike and continues to break barriers for women in BMX. Now, she also carries the strength of motherhood to enhance her life both on and off the bike.

“I think it’s pretty incredible knowing that our kids are a perfect blend of my husband and me. To know these amazing humans grew inside my belly is something that I marvel at often,” she said. “I love staring into their eyes and seeing their joy and listening to them laugh – it’s priceless. You can’t ever get back these younger years with kids and it goes by so quickly, so I want to try and make the most of it.”