Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 NBL Grands: an Emotional Finale

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."
-- Johnny Cash

On the first day of practice in Louisville, I received news that has sat like lead in my heart, dampening my spirit, and weighing down the corners of my smile. Knowing that I couldn't share this with my son before his biggest race of the year, I shoved my sad secret as far back as I could where it still crept out to cloud my thoughts.

The Felt Boys and Wyatt
Wyatt went 2-2-1 in motos
Photo credit: Kevin McMeans
It was a mostly joyful time in the Felt pits. We won our battle for scaffolding, and Vann, Wyatt and I thanked William for his "awesomeness" that afforded us this opportunity. He'd better keep up the good work because I don't think I could stand watching from the ground again.

Motos passed smoothly for both of my boys, and all the Felt riders. Wyatt cleared quarters easily, but ended 5th in his 8 challenger semi. In the 8 cruiser semi, he went down with his friend and Schanewolf team mate Derek Wright, which was equally disappointing for both boys.

Despite not making making his mains, Vann and I heard from several people who raved about Wyatt's improved riding. Vann and I are very proud of him, and he should be proud of himself too!

Misty Castro and I hugged each other in shared relief after William and Ricky qualified for the 10x main, only to have our hearts sink for the Hatems, who were standing a few feet away. Semis are tough, and Gabe Hatem not making the 11x main is a testament to the fact that sometimes the top riders don't. We heaved a collective sigh after all the Felt boys cleared cruiser semis.
As this video protest shows, Grant Green (10x)
is across the line and going to the main!

As mains began I felt my stomach lurch and the lump rise in my throat. Our first Felt rider up was Marcus Christopher in 8x. This little boy is so skilled and so fast. We knew the win was his. Our pit area was hushed as Marcus crashed going all out for his win.

William and Ricky loaded the gate shortly after, leaving me no time to offer a word of comfort to the Christophers. As the gate dropped in 10x, it appeared as if we might get our wish-- Felt riders in 1 and 2. William was well positioned on the inside, with a plan to sweep up to take the inside line on the second straight. All this was in William's head as he was sent down going into the first turn. Hurt and anger filled me all at once, and it felt terrible. Misty was there again. My sweet friend hugging me and shedding tears of joy for her son's 10x victory, and tears of hurt for William and me.
William dominated his 10x motos
photo credit: Mark Mascara

Ricky Castro celebrated another national title with his win in 10 cruiser. Fortunately this was a clean race and William pulled 4th. He rode well, and Vann and I were proud, but William felt shamed and disappointed. His winner's heart has trouble accepting it, and yet he must, and move on.

Yesterday I broke the news to William that his best friend Thomas, a kind-hearted soul who came back strong from a liver transplant, jumped our bike ramps, and climbed the trees in our yard, has been diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoma. He has been pulled from school to begin 18 weeks of chemotherapy. His mom asked that William please call and write to Thomas because they won't be able to see each other for quite some time. Learning of his friend's suffering helped pull William out of his black hole of self-pity and self-doubt that he's been swimming in since mains on Sunday.

I found it odd that through all of the sadness, joy, disappointment, anger, relief, pride and resolve, my eyes remained dry. Yesterday in the car, as Don Williams and Emmylou sang "If I Needed You", the tears finally came.
William, Wyatt and Thomas



  1. Oh Heather, I'm just crushed about Thomas, as I know you all are. Beautiful post, full of lessons and love-

  2. Great as always. Thanks for the photo props. And even though we don't know Thomas, all the Green's will have him and William in our thoughts.