By Brandon Hayes
As a fulltime student, I have been very involved with school sports programs, such as football and lacrosse. In addition to these sports, I have another sport that has impacted me as a student and helped to shape my character. Motorcycle racing is a passion of mine that I do six months of the year participating in fifteen races. Each race is two hours with multiple laps on a ten mile course through woods, streams and fields.In the spring of 2009, I was promoted from the youth class to the amateur adult class. This season was my most memorable season to date. Mainly because I learned one of the most important life lessons, if you put your mind to something and stay determined you can become a champion.In my family, athletics very are important but my parents never let me forget that school comes first. If I miss a homework assignment or if I am late to class, my motorcycle is taken away until I prove myself academically. So leading up to the 2009 race season, I knew I had to be on the ball if I wanted to succeed in school and my activities outside of school. Balancing my schoolwork with my social life and my passion for racing wasn’t always easy. I knew it had to be done and I was determined to achieve it.As the 2009 race season kicked off in May, I proved to everyone that I was at the top of my class by winning several races. However, there was stiff competition from a racer in my class by the name of Shawn Davis. We battled all year exchanging wins almost every other race. It all came down to the last race of the season. Yes after fourteen races, Shawn and I were tied in points for the championship and the fifteenth race would crown the champion.
In the weeks preceding the race, I was very active in football and had limited time to practice on my motorcycle. I had joined the football team and was committed to playing for my high school. Shawn was practicing on his motorcycle more than I was. I knew this because we became close friends over the race season and talked to each other often. This concerned me as I was trying to balance school, sports and racing and knew that practicing on my motorcycle sharpens my skills for race day. Knowing school comes first, I had to plug away and do all that I could in my spare time to prepare for the final race.When race day came around, I knew what I was up against and I had come way too far not to give him a good fight. At the start of the race, I was doing great running second but I made a couple mistakes that cost me a big fall that tore up my knee pretty bad. When I got up off the ground I thought to myself how bad do I want this? Also I was thinking is it worth going any farther to sacrifice hurting myself? Realizing how hard I have worked on and off the race track for the whole season to get where I am, it was not good enough to settle for second place.Surviving through the pain, I just gave it my all. On lap five of a six lap race, my beat up motorcycle and body saw the competition ahead. I snuck up on Shawn like a bobcat, riding so flawless at the time I felt like nothing could take me down. I then took a chance by turning the throttle and lining up side by side with him in tight woods. I knew that if he was to try and block me and not let me by that I wouldn’t be finishing the race. But earlier that day, I promised myself that I would win this race for the championship and I was determined to do so. I didn’t expect today to be an easy race, so it was perfect to be neck and neck with my rival on the last lap.
Not knowing what was about to happen, I took the chance when he thought I never would. I passed him on the most challenging section of the track. Being nowhere near flawless, I pulled it off and gained the lead. Looking back I saw the anger on his face and felt my determination say to myself it has to stay like this until the end. When I crossed the finish line I let go with a big “yee-haw”. I looked into the crowd searching for my family to give them all big hugs showing my thanks for their support. Shawn crossed the finish line pretty upset but when I put my hand on his back and said “great season” his eyes started to sparkle like diamonds, knowing that he put in a good race and had a lot of respect for my determination to come back from a hard crash and win the championship.This experience may be one in a life time and it has taught me how to stay determined even when things are not going your way. An experience that has helped to form my character, and will help me through many of life’s future chapters.