An Okotoks family is going all in on an amateur sports opportunity of a lifetime.
Selling their house, taking out multiple loans, the Bly family is putting all their chips on the table with 16-year-old Rylan set to compete in the Mecca of motocross – the Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee on July 31.
“We went all in. Some people probably think we’re nuts, but I think he’s worth it,” said Rylan’s mother Raelene Bly. “We hear it with the pros all the time down there. Hardly any of them came from money, they all have the same stories with three, four mortgages on the house and uncles and aunts taking equity from their businesses. It’s just what everybody does.
“When you see how good your kid is it’s funny what you do as a parent.”
Rylan has done nothing but reward the support since stepping onto the track.
He will be the only Canadian competing against 39 of the top amateur athletes at the championships in the 250c class.
“It means a lot that I can do this with them putting all their effort into it,” said Rylan of the family support. “I just want to go in really confident, don’t make any mistakes and just ride smart.”
Needing a top-four spot to book a ticket to Tennessee, Bly surprised himself by finishing first in the modified class and third in the limited class at regionals in Temecula, California.
The qualification wasn’t without obstacles.
“He was involved in a start crash in the first moto,” Raelene said. “By the time he got up off the ground he was in last place and he managed to work his way back into ninth. We thought ‘oh no, this is it.’
“Because everyone else had a bad second moto it just worked out he got third.”
The Okotokian now goes into the biggest event of his career on a high.
On the line at the Loretta Lynn’s is sponsorship and team contract opportunities.
“It’s a big confidence booster because now I know going into the event that I have a chance of doing really, really well at it,” Rylan said. “It’s a big thing for me. That can lead to future contracts with teams or sponsors that can help us out with financial issues, bikes and equipment.”
Rylan travelled down to the Golden Coast for two weeks prior to the race for heat conditioning and intensive training with estimable coach Yannig Cervella.
“He helped out a lot with training, fitness, everything,” Rylan said. “He worked on our technique, lap times, gym.”
After a couple weeks of training sessions at the Blackfoot track in Calgary, the Blys will caravan down over 3,300 kilometres to the famed ranch of the legendary country music singer.
“We’re trying to find a motorhome. We have a friend who has a friend who might have one in Nashville, nothing is for sure yet,” Raelene said. “That’s going to come together last minute.
“If we had to we could rent one out, but we looked at the costs and it’s over five thousand dollars.”
The sprawling facility requires transportation to and from along with housing in the form of an RV along with a trailer for the bike and parts.
Not including the motor home rental, the costs soar to the $8,000 to $9,000 range.
The Blys have asked for help from the community to offset some of the costs and have queried those with RVs who might be willing to help out the family.
While noting that times are tough for most people in the current economy, every little bit helps.
“Maybe people are scared that they need to have a lot to donate,” Raelene said. “If you could get even 100 people to donate 10 bucks, that’s one thousand dollars.
“If everyone did that it would be pretty substantial.”
Going all in sometimes means bringing down the house. Other times you lose all your chips.
The family is prepared for either scenario.
“We’ve talked about the other side too. What happens if it doesn’t turn out?” Raelene said. “We would regret it if we didn’t go all in and give him that opportunity.
“There are quite a few kids his age who are quite good up here, but their parents aren’t willing to give it all up. You can have this amazing child, but if the family isn’t willing to sacrifice you can’t really go anywhere.”
For more information on fundraising for the Bly family go to gofundme.com/rylanandjaden