Mothers of athletes: The real MVPs


Kevin Durant was not the only person given the title of MVP on May 6.

The NBA scoring leader did something unorthodox — as the most valuable player in the NBA accepted his new trophy, he put the spotlight on others. After thanking every single one of his teammates, family members and friends he turned everyone’s attention to his MVP: his mom.

BYU cornerback Jordan Preator stands with his mother after a high school All-Star game. Photo courtesy Jordan Preator
BYU cornerback Jordan Preator stands with his mother, Shawnee Bishop, after a high school All-Star game. (Photo courtesy Jordan Preator)

“You kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table, and when you didn’t eat you made sure we ate,” Durant said to his mother during the press conference. “You sacrificed for us; you’re the real MVP.”

Athletes often credit their moms as their greatest fans and supporters. Student athletes at BYU are no different.

“I owe almost everything I’ve earned today to my mom,” said BYU football offensive lineman Michael Yeck.

Yeck’s mom, Barbara Yeck, was quite the athlete in her tenure at Ricks College. She played basketball and volleyball and was the first female All-American inducted into the Hall of Fame at Ricks.

“She understands the passion, commitment and sacrifice that it takes to play sports,” Yeck said. “She was able to coach me starting at a young age on what it takes to be a great athlete.”

Many people don’t realize that sports mothers sacrifice just as much time as their children do.

“My mom was always there at the games,” Yeck said. “I could always hear her yelling above the other parents, usually at the refs. I always knew that she supported me, and I always felt love from her.”

Freshman corner Jordan Preator expressed his gratitude for all the sacrifices his mom, Shawnee Bishop, has made for him.

“My mom was always supportive. She would always drive me to practices, pick me up after long days of work and have dinner on the table waiting for me when I got home,” Preator said.

Preator said his mom is extremely supportive, not only as a parent but as a fan.

“My mom’s favorite thing to yell is, ‘You’re faster than them! You’re faster than them!’ no matter what sport I’m playing,” Preator said. “It was embarrassing …  but I knew that she was 100 percent behind me.”

Nate Austin, a junior forward on the men’s basketball team, is grateful for the impact his mom, Leslie Austin, had on not only his basketball game but his life.

“My mom made sure each area of my life was balanced,” Austin said. “She always made sure I was focusing on things away from basketball as well — focusing on the spiritual side and doing well in school. That way, my life was balanced. So when I was playing basketball I could just focus on basketball and give it my all.”

Austin attributed his playing style on the court to his mother’s example as well.

“My mom is a very hard worker; she is one of the most selfless people I know,” Austin said. “I think for me that shows in my game. I’m not a very selfish player; I like to help my teammates and do things for the team.”

Austin said his mother stands behind him no matter how he plays.

“Whether we win or whether we lose, my mom tells me she is proud of me,” Austin said. “She is proud of the person I am and the player that I am. I like how that comes after a win or a loss.”

Yeck is also grateful for the unconditional support his mother shows him.

“My mom thinks that I am the greatest player there ever was, and she gives me that kind of confidence,” Yeck said. “Whenever I have a bad game, she is always very fiercely positive, and that keeps me positive. It always helps me get back out there and keep trying to live up to her expectations.”




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