Situated among the wooded areas and long, quiet roads of Elkton are the rust-colored hills and curving black berms of the First Coast BMX track. The track of tight turns and wavy jumps is the home of exciting competitive racing and a fun place for riders who enjoy the thrilling speed and stunning tricks of the sport. Anthony Sargent is the operator and the propelling force behind the track of both dreams and entertainment.
Anthony is just as eager about BMX racing as the bikers who frequent and train on the track. As the operator of First Coast BMX, he takes on both the constant maintenance of the track and the business affairs. As a fellow BMX rider, Anthony understands and appreciates every aspect of keeping the track functional and up to par. He understands the expectations of other riders who are serious about the sport and it’s something that he has done since he became the operator of the track. “My sons and I built the track about six years ago after we took it over from the previous operator,” he says.
Anthony Sargent has been engaged with BMX racing since he was a kid living in New York. He enjoyed the fun of riding for many years. As he grew older, however, life changes and responsibilities slowly pulled him away from the world of spiraling spokes and bar spins. “I’ve been riding since the eighties,” Anthony explains, “but I stopped racing and started a family. I worked a regular job and kind of left BMX. When I left New York and came down here, my oldest son said, ‘Hey! I want a BMX!’”
“At that time, I kind of let myself go. I was about three-hundred and fifty pounds. I came out riding with my son and lost one-hundred pounds! A couple years of riding got me in better shape. I still have a little work to do, but I’m feeling and looking a lot better.” Not only does Anthony try to stay fit for himself but also for the daily rigors of the sport and for running First Coast BMX in St. Augustine. To further compound that drive to remain healthy in mind and body, Anthony Sargent also operates First Coast BMX of Daytona. His non-stop attention to both locations keeps him busy on and off the track.
Operating the business calls for a lot of hard work, sweat, and dedication. They are all characteristics exhibited by Anthony, as he continuously seeks to expand the sport by keeping the track in top shape and full of enthusiastic riders. Anthony is very quick to point out that teamwork is just as important in running the track as it is in the sport of BMX. “The director of Parks and Recreation, Will Smith, and other county officials have helped us out here with lights, dirt, and many different things to keep the track going. A lot of volunteers help too. No one is getting paid to do this. It’s just a lot of love for the sport and for the community,” says Anthony.
That love for the sport is a strong part of BMX and it’s what helps Anthony successfully operate First Coast BMX. It’s also what initially attracted him to the sport as a kid – “In BMX, we all help each other. It’s a great dynamic between BMX and many of the other sports. No one sits on the bench. Everyone always races. It doesn’t matter what size you are or your skill level. There’s a place for everyone. Everyone gets a chance. Kids that don’t normally fit those traditional sports, actually do pretty well here. BMXers take respect for one another very seriously. There is no discouraging other riders. The group dynamic in BMX fiercely discourages that negative attitude. You don’t see that a lot in other sports, nor in life. If you’re willing to come down that hill, you’re immediately given that respect,” Anthony says with a proud smile.
Anthony Sargent not only incorporates his knowledge and passion for BMX in his daily operations of the track, but makes it a point to show riders the morals of the sport. These are the qualities that make novice and professional riders gravitate around him and the track. Anthony shares, “We have whole families that ride – mom, dad, and the kids. They all ride competitively, some even at the national level. We’ve had some national champions from this track, like locals Taylor and Jenson Koll. They’re kids from St. Augustine, from this track!” The excitement that Anthony feels about BMX is equally matched by his genuine excitement for the achievements and happiness of the riders on his track.
As the sport of BMX continues to reach around the world, its growing impact and popularity generously affect Anthony and First Coast BMX. He prides himself in helping to develop the talent and skill of the increasing number of locals interested in the sport. By serving the local community with a great track, Sargent has also opened the doors for even larger crowds and events to First Coast BMX. He says, “We had an SSA (Sunshine State BMX Association) event. There were three thousand people here! A couple of guys who ended up in the Olympics raced on this track at that event. The Olympics brings a lot to the table to make things evolve here.”
However, no matter how many large racing events come to First Coast BMX in St. Augustine and no matter how many local stars rise from the dirt jumps of his track to world stardom, Anthony Sargent remains committed to the core values and basic fun of the sport. As he points at little five-year old and seven-year old kids taking a fast turn on the track, Anthony says, “To teach them competition like that at such a young age so that they learn to excel and work together, that’s what excites me so much about it.”