How mothers cope when their sons race

Now sixteen and ripping up the racetracks on his KX 250, Brayden is a force to be reckoned with.

Brayden & Nikki standing next to eachother in a motorcycle shop.

Brayden Jellis, a dirt bike racer, with his mom Nikki Jellis, who watches with mixed emotions. — Trish Drinkle photo

Sixteen-year-old Brayden Jellis from Creston, British Columbia, is a passionate dirt bike racer who participates in both motocross races and supercross events across the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Since the age of five when he was riding his CRF 50, it was apparent that this young man had a passion for dirt and horsepower.

Now sixteen and ripping up the racetracks on his KX 250, Brayden is a force to be reckoned with. Many podium first finishes in Spokane and Newport, Washington, and Libby, Montana,
have further fueled his dedication and passion.

Mother Nikki Jellis has mixed emotions when it comes to her son’s racing career. By nature, mothers are hard-wired to keep their children safe, much like a mother grizzly bear. Heaven help anything that could threaten the well-being of her little one. Anything, that is, except for dirt bikes and racing.

“Watching Brayden is difficult for me,” said Nikki. “I see my son flying high in the air and cringe at all of the possibilities. I support him, but in the same sense I just want to shelter him from harm.”

Nikki Jellis’s faith and foundation had been tested when Brayden crashed in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His bike had stalled mid-race while he was navigating a series of whoops. He crashed hard with his bike landing on his foot, crushing it.

Mother Jellis received a call with little details of Brayden’s injury, igniting her panic. Should she drive across the border and meet them at the hospital or should she wait? Realizing the best thing she could do was to wait for more information and trust that he was in good hands with his father, she spent a sleepless night by the phone.

“I wish I could be the kind of mom that didn’t have such worry and anxiety when it comes to Brayden’s racing. I know he is talented, and as a mother I want to see him succeed and follow his passion,” she said. “The only thing I can do is get through one race at a time. My imagination runs wild when I’m not there, but my stomach is in knots watching him race in person.”

Respecting his mother’s worry, Brayden is sure to connect with his mother after each race so she can breathe easy.

The bond between this mother and son is apparent the moment you watch them interact. Brayden knows the higher he flies and the faster he rips on his bike, the more he inches his mother out of her comfort zone. How does he help keep the balance between horsepower and his mother’s love? “I always wear my safety gear. I won’t ride without it,” he said. “When I hit a big jump, I practice and gradually get to a point that I am comfortable hitting the big one. I plan and practice to prevent injury.”

Brayden has a private motocross track at his home where he spends endless hours practicing and perfecting his skill and timing.

A mother’s love is strong, as is the calling for horsepower, which produces a dirt-eating grin. The balance for many is a combination of faith, respect, practice and communication. “I may make the odd Facebook status update with prayers for Brayden’s safe landing, but all in all I have to say I am incredibly proud of my son. I am proud of his moto and supercross skills, but that doesn’t stop me from secretly wishing he’d take up extreme crocheting or scrapbooking,” Nikki laughed.

For other worried mothers out there, be engaged in the safety aspect of your powersport kid for peace of mind and sanity. Mentorship from those experienced in the sport will help prevent mishap so every lesson learned need not be a hard one. There will be crashes; there will be bumps, bruises and perhaps a broken bone; but all in all, when today’s youth are encouraged to follow their passions in life, they will continue to do so in adulthood.

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