Monday, February 9, 2015

To see the struggles.

I've been around this sport a long time now. I got my first bike the Christmas of 1990. My brother Jarett was born the summer of 1993 and it wasn't long after that, he was on two wheels. 

I raced a little, but as I got older I was more in to high school sports. Not Jarett. On 50s he was a state champion, 65s it was on to Loretta's. He was always one of the top guys around home and has brought home multiple top 10 finishes at a national level. 9 strait trips to Loretta Lynn's and a fairly injury free amateur career set him up to turn pro at 16. 

2009. A rule change bumped the pro age requirements from 16 to 18. (Which was later changed back) The plan was for Jarett to ride his last full amateur year in 2009 and ride some pro stuff in 2010. At just 17 years old, he would spend another year in the A class and racing money motos. 

2010. It was at one of those money motos where the injuries in this sport became a reality to our family. Jarett would crash in a section that left him unconscious. Taken to a hospital, then life flighted to another. He had broken his T6 and T7 vertebrae. He also had 3 spots of bleeding on the brain. But yet this injury would not stop his dreams. 

Jarett worked hard, just to be handed another small setback in 2011. A broken collarbone that required a plate and screws. He was back on the bike quickly and back with something to prove. He'd go on to have one of his best amateur years and was awarded the AMA District 14 Rider of the Year Award. 

2012. Head down and blinders on. Jarett worked on being ready for the next level. He had a near flawless year racing money motos and pro-ams.

2013. Ready to race the outdoor nationals and with good support behind him it looked to be a good year. He just missed the cut at Steel City and Unadilla. Red Bud, his hometown race. Jarett was looking forward to racing a track he was comfortable on. Days before the race he would tear his ACL at a practice track and again go under the knife, ending his season. 

January of 2014. Back on the bike and in Florida to prepare for the upcoming season. Jarett crashed resulting in a badly broken femur. The injury to me was the one that had me asking why. "Just hang up the boots." Eventually it's too hard to see someone you love get hurt over and over. 

In typical racer mindset, Jarett was pissed. He worked his ass off after this surgery. Just 3 1/2 months later and he was on the bike. I think I was shaking my head on this one. But Jarett had plans. He wasn't going to miss his hometown race again. 

He rolled in to Red Bud for the national, just 6 months after injury. He'd go on to qualify in the 250 class strait out of the timed sessions. He lined up on that 40 man gate and achieved a goal that started back at 5 years old. I was there with him that day and it will remain one of the happiest days of my life. 

2014 remained good to Jarett. He was featured in the MX vs. ATV Supercross video game and his racing in Canada earned him national number 83 for 2015.

I'm proud of you Jarett. Way to never give up on a dream.

Photo: Jim McMillan

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