I wanted to get an interview in this week with the parents of a rider for a couple of reasons. The first reason was, we never get to hear from the parents! They are the people who break their backs week in and week out to support their child’s goals, and dreams. Secondly, I wanted to talk with a family that has been a part of the sport for a long time, so that they can really give us a good sense of what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence. The first person that came to mind was Michelle Halstead (Hayden Halstead #147’s mom). She has been around for years and years supporting Hayden through the ranks, and Hayden’s recent success at the pro nationals is an accomplishment for all involved! Here’s a few questions I pulled together to ask Michelle about the life of a Motocross mom:
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, as well as who your racer is.
A: Hi Ben this is an interesting idea and I appreciate you asking me to help. You may regret that after your fingers fall off from typing because you know I can talk! I am a very proud MX Mom to Hayden Halstead #147 Pro. I am a nurse working primarily in the community where I specialize in wound care, clinical assessment and end of life, palliative care. Hayden’s Dad (Brent) and I have always been interested in motorcycles. I bought myself a Kawasaki Ninja when I was 17. Brent use to race his GSX-R at Shannonville until the cost of racing became too much as a privateer. When Hayden was 6 we purchased motocross bikes for the trails. After a few years of watching him make little dirt jumps in the backyard we tried him in a race and the rest is history.
Q: How much time do you spend supporting/guiding Hayden throughout the week?
A: Oh my! Like many MX families our life pretty much revolves around getting ready for the next race! Mondays are hectic with cleaning up from the weekends race. Hayden rides Tues-Thurs so depending on Brent’s shift one of us goes with him to time, hydrate and be there in case he gets injured. Thursday-Friday I am re-packing the trailer, getting groceries etc to pack up to leave for the track as soon as I get finished seeing my patients. I am lucky to have excellent colleagues who switch weekends with me so I can be at the races but the down side is I never get a weekend off. From April to October, I am either at the races or working to pay for them!
Q: What kinds of things at home do you prepare? Help out with for weekends?
A: We often end up with extra people in our trailer either sleeping or visiting. So I usually make a menu/grocery list then start loading the trailer with food off the list. I pre-cook a lot of meat if I can before the weekend so I can have quick easy meals available. I have recently allocated washing gear to Hayden as it is so time consuming to get gear properly washed. He was lucky enough to receive a sponsorship from AXO gear so we try really hard to keep it clean and fresh.
Q: Hardest part of being a moto mom?
A: There are lots of difficult things/politics about MX and I guess for me, I would say this is very difficult to handle. It is hard not to protect or defend your child. (Is that a bad thing?) I use to get a lot more worked up and frustrated but I have really done some personal work on attempting to control my emotions and pick my battles.
Q: How do you feel after last weekend’s performance at Gopher?
A: I was so so so proud of him. Not just for his performance which was stellar but his attitude after the races. He had bad starts in both motos and had to battle back from 17th to 7th and 39th to 9th. Instead of being frustrated or disappointed he lifted his head out of the semi-warm water filled inflatable pool, that he literally fell into after the race and said “I’m so damn proud of myself!!” Brought tears to my eyes.
Q: Do you set goals as a family, or does Hayden plan for what he wants to chase after?
A: Oh for sure. We have a lot of family chats about how Hayden is doing, what he wants to improve on, where he feels he is weak and strong. There’s always talk on the way to races and especially after races on the way home. It’s interesting to see each others take on the weekend and consider each of our views for improvement.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see families make at the motocross track?
A: Setting your goal to win and not recognizing the accomplishment big or small along the journey. Motocross racing is so much more then just about the win. Sure wins are nice and make your chest puff with pride but if that win comes at the cost of your child’s self-esteem due to being belittled or bullied (listen up 50 parents screaming at your kids to turn the throttle) then you really haven’t won anything.
Q: If MXM Nation could do something to support riders like Hayden, or Kraig, what sorts of things would help out the most?
A: Well the obvious answer is sponsorship but as we all know the help is limited. Certainly, this type of interview, photographs, stories etc keeps the up and coming riders names in the forefront and not just focused on the factory teams. It’s so exciting to me when we get to a track and people come up to us and say they are proud of Hayden or tell us what a great kid he is. Just last month in Michigan at Baja I was helping a rider from Kentucky who’s shoulder had dislocated. After, he said to me “Can I tell you something? I’ve been watching your kid on You Tube since he was on 65’s He’s awesome and I hope he gets picked up.” (In his very thick Kentucky accent) Now that for me was a win!
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Thanks for asking this question because we don’t often enough get to personalize a thank you so, Yamaha Canada’s Bryan Hudgins and Chris Poirier have been wonderful supports for us the last couple years. Being associated with them has been a pleasure and honor. McKee Sports in Delhi has also been a huge champion for Hayden’s race effort helping us whenever they can with discounts and encouragement. We also need to thank D4 Performance for Hayden’s “work of art” engine, Zdeno Cycle, NGK, FMF and Outlaw Productions. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Hayden’s biggest fans who are as proud of him as us: Grandpa Halstead, Brent’s dad and my parents, Grandpa and Gramma Gennings whose constant love and support as well as their genuine interest in Hayden’s success is truly heartfelt. We have lots of friends at the track but our closest friends who we simply would be lost without are the Reinharts. Brad and Brent are each others partners hands down! Kathy helps me feed everyone and keeps me calm during the races and Kraig, Intermediate #222, is like a son/brother to us who we are also very proud of. I would love to thank Brent for his never ending support, encouragement and stellar work ethic to help Hayden realize his dreams. The dad’s really are the silent heroes and Brent certainly is ours. Last, but certainly not least, I have to thank my beautiful son who continually amazes me with his talent, his determination and his heart.
Thank you Ben for asking me to express my thoughts, it has been a bit of a memory lane stroll from me and I have truly enjoyed it. Take care and I wish you all the success in the world with your future endeavors.