For the Jeff and Bridget Mills family of Montevideo, Motocross is a family event. All three children, Tucker, Sommer and Max ride, which provides plenty of opportunities for the family to travel together, from competition to competition, supporting each other.
As of the recent Millville Motocross regional girls competition, the Mills family will be supporting a family member on the national level.
Sommer, 14, placed fourth at the regional competition — the United States is split into four regions — which essentially places her among the top 40 girls Motocross racers in the nation.
Come July 29, Sommer and her family will be in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., racing at the 31st Annual Amateur National Motocross Championship held at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Sommer said she is feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness about the race, though she said she was “more excited (than nervous).”
Sommer has been at it for six years now. She started after watching her older brother, Tucker, pick up the hobby.
“It seemed fun,”?she said.
All three of the Mills kids practice regularly. When she is practicing, Sommer said she focuses on a number of things: She is great at turning corners, but is working on improving her speed and jumping.
Of course, there are also more basic concerns on her mind.
“(I tell myself)?just don’t fall,”?Sommer said, referring both to practice, and to the time before a real race.
“Our first goal is no broken bones,”?Bridget confirmed.
Falling is, of course, inevitable, which is where one of Sommer’s greatest strengths comes in.
“She is always the fastest getting back up,” Bridget said.
With all the practice, and traveling to competitions around the state literally every weekend between April and October, the family knows one another very well. There is a familiarity among them; everyone pursues the Motocross hobby together with all of the kids racing, the parents always showing support and Jeff taking care of the maintenance needs. Bridget, the kids say, always cheers the loudest.
Even so, piling into one truck to travel can be a little hectic. Friday evening is usually a travel day, Saturday is practice at a track and Sunday is the competition and the drive home. The drive home is usually more relaxed than the drive up.
“You can tell they raced hard because they’re asleep within a half hour on the road,”?Jeff said.
Even though she’s primed for a national competition, Sommer is nowhere near the end of those weekends with the family, or her time racing.
She’ll be moving up to the womens class in the years ahead, and despite her shy nature, she was proud to say she hopes to eventually race professionally.
For Jeff and Bridget, seeing their daughter fly through the air for 20 to 75 feet is quite an evolution; they can remember a tiny 1 pound, 13 ounce baby.
“I used to hold her in my hand,”?Jeff said.
No matter what happens in the years to come, or in the upcoming national championship, Sommer and her parents already know there is reason to be proud. Sommer’s actions have proven her to be determined, and that determination has paid off.