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Arianne Brown: See past your athletes to notice the people they really are

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As a freelance writer for multiple publications, sometimes I write about subjects I find on my own, and other times I write about subjects I'm assigned.

Recently, I was asked by one of these publications to write a story about a man who is doing some great things in the rodeo world. This man’s name is Kaycee Feild, a four-time national champion in bareback riding who continues to climb the ranks. In order to complete the story, I was given one contact number and a name. To my surprise, the woman on the other end of the phone was his mother, Veronica Feild Jackson.

As I went through my series of questions that consisted of updates on what her son was doing now in his professional career and how he got to where he was, I found that the answers she was giving were short and not as exciting as I had hoped. I was told that I could easily Google his accomplishments, or go to her son’s social media pages for all of the answers.

It was then when I thought to ask one more question: “As you’ve watched your son compete over the years, what are you most proud of?”

As I sat there, waiting for her response, I fully expected her to tell me about a particular world championship win or even an accomplishment as a child or teen learning how to bareback ride. However, when she began to speak, I was taken aback and put in my own place as a mother of young athletes.

“What I am most proud of is the person Kaycee has become,” she told me. “He is a great husband, father and son and has provided great services to the community.”

She went on to talk about the service he has given to U.S. troops overseas as part of the Wrangler Patriot Tour, providing entertainment and a little bit of home to the soldiers serving.

As I listened, I was both touched and taught.

Too often, I think as parents of athletes and children with drive and success in a certain area, it gets really easy to focus on that success. You spend day in and day out and seemingly countless amounts of money helping them achieve success that it often becomes their identity. I have found myself talking only about soccer to some of my boys and tumbling with my daughters, and I have forgotten to see past what they do to who they are. It is an easy mistake to make, but a serious one if you’re not careful.

Following the conversation with Kaycee's mother, I have made a new resolve to be better about seeing my children as who they are rather than what they do. And as I've done so, I've been able to see, more than I have before, that they are good, kind, loving people. More than that, I know that regardless whether they pursue a future in their respective sports, their goodness will carry with them in whatever they choose to do.