LAKE PARK — When she was 17 years old, Chelsea Wolfe knew two things the world didn't: She was transgender, and that one day, she would be a world-class bicycle motocross athlete.
The Lake Park native and Inlet Grove Community High School alumna set about getting her dreams in order. She came out to her mom, Laurie, and honed her craft until she committed to competing BMX freestyle four years later.
Her perseverance paid off.
Wolfe will be the first out trans athlete on Team USA, where she'll serve as an alternate in the women's BMX freestyle competition this weekend – the sport's first appearance at the Olympic games.
"It's taking a bit to fully register that after so many years of work we finally have the Team USA BMX freestyle squad for the Olympics," she wrote on Instagram June 12.
"I am positively a different person than when I set off on this journey. … I'm so excited and honored to keep working so I'm ready to shred in Tokyo in case I'm needed."
Chelsea Wolfe grew up in Florida biking scene
Wolfe didn't just fall into BMX. She was born into it.
Her family, including her mom, dad, older brother and younger sister, all rode BMX together. Wolfe got on a bike for the first time at just 6 years old.
When she started competing, the family drove their RV to competitive series throughout Florida and camped in parking lots at the tracks. They bonded with other riders and their families.
Those memories – traveling together, eating meals on the road and competing together – are cherished to Wolfe's mom, Laurie.
"There’s really a great bicycling scene in Florida. We’ve got a great network of friends who are like family to us," Laurie Wolfe said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.
Local skateboarding pioneer: Jupiter's Zion Wright to seek Olympic skateboarding gold. Here's how to watch his quest.
How to watch the Olympics: What to know about NBC's coverage of the Tokyo Olympics
At home, Wolfe volunteered with Jack The Bike Man in West Palm Beach, an organization that refurbishes bicycles to donate to underserved communities. She spent her nights and weekends shredding the BMX track at Okeeheelee Park.
The road to becoming the seventh-best female BMX rider in the world didn't come easily, though. Wolfe's freestyle riding is self-taught, and throughout her life, she's broken out her teeth several times, along with breaking her hip and injuring her neck riding BMX.
'The person she was looking for when she was growing up'
When Wolfe got to high school, she started to understand herself and how she saw herself in the future.
As a college student at the University of Central Florida, Wolfe spent time looking inward and coming out to her friends and family members.
That process wasn't always smooth. Wolfe became estranged from some members of her family, and her mom said people have "spewed hatred" toward her and her presence in competitive sports.
Wolfe has been undergoing gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy for seven years, and the International Olympic Committee required her to undergo extensive testing before she was allowed a spot on Team USA.
While her place on the team represents progress, she said the acceptance of trans athletes in sports has a long way to go. Wolfe speaks publicly about how important visibility is for trans people and athletes who have an international stage at the Olympics.
"By pushing through and becoming the hero I needed … I could retrospectively heal the wounds inflicted by feeling like I would never belong," Wolfe wrote on Instagram. "Most importantly, I could help prevent those wounds from ever being inflicted on the next generation of girls like me."
Wolfe and her family hope young trans girls will see her as a role model and proof that they can accomplish anything.
"She’s the person she was looking for when she was growing up to understand what she was going through," Laurie Wolfe said.
How to watch BMX in Tokyo 2020 Olympics
At the Tokyo 2020 Games, BMX freestyle cycling competitors will execute tricks on obstacles such as walls, box jumps and ramps, according to the Olympic committee.
They are given one minute to perform acrobatic tricks and skills. Tricks are scored on difficulty, originality, execution, height and creativity.
Wolfe is an alternate at this year's Olympic Games, which means she'll only compete if one of the two riders representing the U.S., Perris Benegas or Hannah Roberts, pull out of the competition.
The United States' representation at the Games is unusual, though. Since the U.S. dominates the international standings in women's BMX, it is the only country with two riders in the Olympic BMX freestyle competition.
Roberts and Benegas will compete against athletes from Australia, Germany, Chile, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and Switzerland.
The preliminary Women's Freestyle BMX Park competition will be live on NBC stations at 9:10 p.m. today. The finals will air at 9:10 p.m. Saturday.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe from Lake Park to make history as Team USA's first trans athlete