When Angie Marino started riding BMX, she wasn’t trying to be a female trailblazer in a sport that represented very few women. She was just a kid who looked up to her older brother and wanted to follow in his footsteps, whatever they may be.
“I started racing when I was about 7 or 8,” Marino explains. “I just wanted to do everything my brother did, so when he started racing, I wanted to start racing. I raced BMX for a few years and I stopped. I was No. 1 in my age group and it started getting boring.”
Marino made the switch at the age of 15 to ride freestyle. At the time, there weren’t a ton of girls competing in the sport—she remembers going up against the same three to five girls at most of the competitions. Even with the limited pool of rivals, she was able to find something that wasn’t there for her when she was racing.
“I wanted to be more free with [my riding] and to be more creative,” Marino says, “instead of just going as fast as I can and whoever crosses the line first wins. It was really cool to travel to competitions and to ride with other girls and get inspired by them. I’ve never been a super competitive person, but it was always awesome to go and ride with other females.”
As the sport is looking to make its 2021 Olympic debut in Tokyo—the games have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic—Marino is hoping to be on the world’s biggest stage competing for Team USA. She’s been part of the team since its inception in 2018, seizing the opportunity to ride all over the world and experience different cultures with a group of very close friends.
While there is momentum behind the sport right now, as it continues to expand and progress, it wasn’t always that way. The BMX world is small and male dominated, creating an environment that could often get a little ugly.
“When I first started riding there were a lot of assholes,” Marino says. “There were a lot of people saying things like, ‘get back in the kitchen,’ and other crazy stuff. Now there are more girls and there’s more awareness, and things like social media have been really helping make it more accepted now.
”The Bloom BMX, a website co-founded by Marino and fellow rider Beatrice Trang, has played an integral role in changing the way people think about women’s BMX. “This year was such an important year, and there’s just been such an uprising in the progression [of the sport] and the number of female athletes coming out of the woodwork,” Marino says. “It’s been a really exciting year to get this going and share the news with everybody and cover all the girls events.”
Right around the time she started riding freestyle, Marino got her first tattoo. It was a simple mustache on the inside of her finger, a placement she chose so she’d be able to hide it from her dad. In fact, Marino became very good at hiding her tattoos from her father, even going so far as hiding her sleeve for a few years, only to have a pesky aunt blow up her spot after a Google image search. “I guess it’s ironic that my dad hates tattoos,” Marino explains. “My sleeve symbolizes him and me, because we’ve had such a close relationship my whole life.”
Marino’s sleeve depicts two koi fish swimming upstream, a symbol of perseverance and determination in traditional Japanese tattooing. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting tattoo considering her journey thus far. You can guarantee that Marino will keep striving and doing all that she can to progress her sport. She doesn’t just want to shatter the glass ceiling in BMX—she wants to crash through it while landing a sick trick.