LIVINGSTON PARISH — Motocross has meant everything to local athlete Easton Graves for as long as he can remember.
Now, the sixth-grader has earned an opportunity to compete in the sport he loves while representing his country.
The Livingston Parish resident was one of a handful of kids from across the country selected for Team USA to compete in the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) Junior Motocross World Championship in Romania from July 7-9.
“I’ve been riding dirt bikes since I was four,” Graves, 11, stated. “Basically, they pick around five to eight kids nationwide, and it’s hand-chosen, and I got chosen to go for the Team USA team. I was chosen out of 50-60 people nationwide.”
According to his mother, Ashlee Graves, he was hand-selected because of his impressive performances at several races along the circuit, most notably the spring nationals and mini Olympics races.
She said her son pays attention to the hard work needed to excel. It was evident early on that he was interested in motocross.
“He trains a lot, so there is a point where it can be scary, but we spend a lot of time and energy to make sure he’s trained on how to do everything correctly,” she said. “That makes it easier. He knows how to handle his bike and track conditions.
“He puts in a lot of hours, hard work, and dedication to practicing,” she added. “To see that all finally pay off is pretty cool. His brother rode locally and for fun. He’s always had the need for speed and started at 2 with a strider balance bike. It escalated from that. We started out having fun, and he took it to the next level.”
Ashlee said the winner of next month’s race will hold the world title.
“I love that it’s fun, and I get to go fast and jump,” Easton said. “I’m excited. I’ve never been out of the country.”
Ashlee said her two kids are homeschooled, so the family travels often, racing on weekends or at a training facility.
Easton rides during the week and also does off-bike training. She said her family has spent much time in the Southeast training and riding.
“I want other people to know and get involved,” Ashlee said. “Louisiana has a small moto scene. The people and families you meet in this sport are like family forever. They are all genuinely good people. It’s neat because you end up spending time with all the people you meet. They have friends from all over, including Australia, Washington, France, and Wyoming. Friends worldwide, and it’s a neat opportunity for everyone.”