High school coaches often encourage their athletes to participate in more than one sport.
That’s not a problem for St. Cloud Apollo junior Jeremy Koffi: He plays four.
Koffi is a starting defensive back for the Apollo football team. In the offseason, he is involved in basketball, track and weightlifting.
He was an All-Central Lakes Conference honorable mention selection in the triple jump for the Apollo track team in 2012, and he also was a top-10 finisher in a Rocori powerlifting competition in August.
Yet despite the honors and awards he has received from playing Apollo sports, the sport that has brought Koffi the most recognition is one that is a bit detached from the high school mainstream: BMX racing.
“I’ve loved racing bikes since before I can remember,” Koffi said. “When I moved to St. Cloud, a friend of mine who was already involved in the sport brought me to the track, and I’ve been racing ever since.”
“He’s a guy that works hard, both in conditioning and in the weight room,” Apollo head football coach Justin Skaalerud said. “It’s great that he’s involved in BMX racing. We always encourage having multiple-sports athletes here.”
At just 16 years of age, Koffi is a three-time Minnesota state champion in high school BMX racing.
At the 2012 Minnesota State BMX championships in July, Koffi came out a winner, finishing first in the 16 expert race.
With this being his ninth year of competitive racing, it appears that Koffi’s hard work has paid off.
“Last year, I raced probably three nights a week,” Koffi said. “When I’m not doing that, I’m out riding my bike around, hitting those jumps and practicing hard.”
Koffi’s success has earned him a lot of attention, but he isn’t the only St. Cloud native to make a name for himself in BMX racing.
Alise Post, a 2009 St. Cloud Tech graduate, was a U.S. Olympian in the 2012 London Games and has been a fixture on the international BMX scene since she was a teenager.
In 2006, Post was voted “Rookie Pro of the Year” by the readers of BMX’er Magazine, an honor that has traditionally been awarded exclusively for male racers.
Koffi admires the success that Post has had and views her as an inspiration.
“I think what she’s been able to accomplish is awesome,” Koffi said. “Growing up watching her be successful and accomplish her goals was really cool. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the level that she’s on.”
While he admires the accomplishments that Post has acheived in her career, Koffi understands that to get to that level, you have to focus most of your attention on racing.
Since he is already a three-sport athlete at Apollo, it is nearly impossible for him to do that, especially during school months.
However, his involvement in racing has allowed him to develop his athleticism throughout his teenage years, something that is beneficial to him when playing other sports.
“I felt like I was stronger than a lot of kids back in junior high because I was always out digging trails and jumps,” Koffi said. “You won’t see too many racers that are unathletic but are also fast. You usually have to be in pretty good shape. So that’s definitely helped me.”
BMX racing requires a certain level of fitness from its participants.
Koffi has worked hard to stay to ensure he stays in good physical condition so that he can compete, not just in racing, but in a number of different sports as well.
Now 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Koffi has made himself into a dynamic athlete, and racing seems to have played a significant role in that.
“Jeremy grew a lot last year,” said Skaalerud, who expects Koffi to be an important part of the Eagles’ defense this season. “He progressed throughout the year, and towards the end, he really caught up to the speed of the game.
“I anticipate he’ll be a very good player for us this year.”
Koffi has had his share of success at the racetrack, but he aspires to realize his dream of playing football at the college level.
With nearly two full seasons of playing time ahead of him, that’s a goal he is excited about accomplishing.
But despite his football aspirations, Koffi has no plans to quit racing any time soon.
“One of my goals is to play college football,” he said. “But I also plan on being a BMXer as long as my body will let me.”