Nottingham High School Alumni Wins Gold at 2023 BMX X Games

August 11, 2023

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Nottingham High School Class of 2008 alumni, Colin Varanyak competed and won a gold medal in the BMX X Games in Ventura, California in July 2023. The X Games are an Olympics-style annual competition of “extreme sports.”        

Colin attended Klockner Elementary School, Crockett Middle School, and graduated from Nottingham High School. “There were fields across from Klockner when I was a kid. I could not wait for school to end in anticipation of grabbing my bike and riding the trails there. Riding has always been a passion of mine,” shared Colin. Racing began for Colin at the age of five. He recalled bringing in his bike helmet and racing medals for show and tell in elementary school. “Racing became competitive for me at a very young age. My family would travel with me monthly as I competed across the country. It was a challenge balancing my school work and racing schedule as I was still in grade school. The intensity began affecting me and I lost the love of the sport from the stress. I stopped racing and focused on my school work, other sports, and spending time with friends,” shared Colin. It was during this time in eighth grade when Colin transitioned into riding freestyle. Initially a therapeutic endeavor, Colin didn’t see himself competing in freestyle riding. In high school he wrestled, ran track and field, and remained fit. “BMX was never an intended career. I planned to attend college and get a job,” said Colin   

Colin was inspired by Nottingham High School teacher Ken Klek. “His course was one of my favorites as I worked with him on a video my senior year. That project work helped to prepare me to create the video and photo content I need now in my career. I thoroughly enjoyed that class and how much we learned from him. Nottingham High School provided me with a supportive environment and real world experience that helped prepare me for my future,” recalled Colin. After graduating from Nottingham High School, Colin attended Mercer County Community College for two years, then transferred to William Paterson University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (PS – 5th) with a minor in History (MS).        

BMX has provided Colin the opportunity to travel and compete worldwide. His daily schedule is rigorous allowing for daily walks, riding, physical workouts, and communications via email, social media, and interviews. Residing in San Diego, CA, allows Colin to train outdoors all year long. “My biggest challenge is to ensure I never lose the love of riding. It’s always been my safe place; however, it can get very stressful,” expressed Colin. During Covid, Colin supplemented his income as a substitute teacher when he was about to give up competing and commit to full time work as an educator.          

Approximately eighteen months ago, Colin signed with Adidas. “A game changer,” said Colin. “Signing with a major brand was a top goal of mine. This sponsorship provided travel, increased exposure, and allowed me to work on many projects,” stated Colin.          

“Winning gold was a lifelong dream. In 2018, I won a silver medal, which I was very proud of. I knew winning gold was a bucket list goal of mine. I spent a lot of time preparing for this BMX X Games competition. In order to stay focused and enter the games at my best, I spent the weeks prior training exclusively,” recalled Colin. His mental preparedness was equally as important in this event. Colin believed talent would only take him so far. He knew he needed to be dedicated to this sport, stay focused, and always remain positive. Ten athletes were invited to compete worldwide in July. After receiving a gold medal, Colin was then invited to Ventura, CA, for additional contests.        

“Congratulations to Colin on his success. We are proud to see one of our former students excel in their career and we will all be watching with Hamilton Pride as he continues to compete,” expressed Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Scott Rocco.        

When asked what advice Colin would give students, he shared, “This is hard work. You need to remain focused and apply yourself daily. Be professional at all times. Stay organized, present your best self and your values. Also, pay attention to your social media and relationships. School, teachers, and lessons learned will help you prepare for success. Learn to be okay with failure. You will continue to fail until you don’t. You will learn and grow and progress if you put the work in.”  

Photo and story provided by: Hamilton Township School District