Sam at the races with his wife Bridget, his oldest boy Bam, and his CRC Team. Photo // Sven Martin.
Fatherhood // An interview with Sam Hill
Earlier this year the mag ran a contest giving someone the chance to fly to Maydena and spend a day riding with Sam Hill. One of the questions we asked on the entry was ‘why you wanted to win the prize?’ The contest received hundreds of entries and it was really amazing how many people commented that the main reason they wanted to win was actually just to hangout with Sam and chat to him about being a Dad, the father of 3 young boys and a dedicated husband to his awesome wife, and how he’s managed to juggle everything throughout his career of being the most dominant gravity racer of the modern era.
That curiosity from so many of our readers really resonated with us and so we asked Sam if he’d be up for doing a little interview not just about being ‘Sam Hill the racer’ but rather being ‘Sam Hill the Dad’, and he willingly obliged.
You and your awesome wife, Bridget, now have 3 boys. Tell me something, does this whole ‘being a parent thing’ get any easier the more kids you have?
Haha well I’m not sure it gets easier we definitely got more relaxed as parents after our first born. I think you stress out a lot with your first kid, everything is new and it’s all about learning and figuring it out. We have 3 boys now and it’s awesome, they just play together and are best mates most of the time.
‘Most of the time!’ ha. Hey so how old were you when your first child, Bam, was born and where were you at in your career that season?
I was 27 when Bam was born, he arrived about 2 weeks prior to the first World Cup of the season that year. It was super important to me and my wife Bridget that I was there for the birth, so we were lucky he wasn’t born a bit later.
Have you had to miss any major races during your career due to the births or family related events?
I haven’t, I’ve been lucky that the timing has worked out where I’ve been home for all the births. I’ve missed a couple of birthdays along the way which is hard but on the flip side I get the whole off season at home.
Did becoming a father change anything about your approach to racing or the way that you ride?
I’m not sure that it changed anything in the way I raced or anything like that, but it definitely gave me a different purpose to race and want to do my best and that was because I wanted to do good now for my Son and my family. Up until that point I wanted to do good for myself and my team, so it gave me a little extra spark I guess. I do the best I can now for them and I want them to be proud of me when they’re older and understand why I was always away.
I bet mate. Surely with your training and traveling workload that is involved with being a World Champion rider and then also being able to dedicate enough time to the family must be challenging. What are some of the most challenging aspects to juggle?
I think it can be hard at times, I think going away to race is harder the older the kids get. They seem to understand time now and how long I’m gone for, so I feel bad leaving them. As far as training goes I usually try and schedule my days around when they are at school. I feel like they really are all my best little mates and so I honestly enjoy just hanging out with them and do things with them after school. That is why I make a real effort to time my training so that I get it all done around the family’s day to day life.
That’s so cool. So do you do the school drop-off and what not when you are at home during term?
Yeah for sure, I’m a super hands on Dad with all of that stuff when I’m home.
I remember chatting with you a little while ago and one comment you made really stuck in my mind. It was something along the lines of when you’re with your kids at the races or just out and about there’s often a lot of ‘Sam Hill this and that references’, but you’re not even sure if your boys realise that you are in fact Sam Hill – what did you mean by that?
Ha yeah, well they know I race bikes and am the World Champion, but they are still young I guess, right. I don’t think they are old enough to fully understand my job or the career I’ve had yet? Or maybe I am ‘just dad’ so it doesn’t even matter haha! I don’t know, I guess they just see me at home really and I’m just a normal dad. Funny little story; a couple years ago my eldest Bam came to the last 2 EWS rounds and I remember he was getting upset that loads of people wanted pictures with me, I guess it must have just seemed weird for him at the time!
Your wife sure does seem like a bit of a wonder-mum, holding down the fort when you’re not around, etc?
Haha yeah she is for sure, she does awesome with running the house and keeping things smooth both when I’m home and away racing.
One of your passions outside of MTB is motocross and it looks like your boys are super into riding MX now too. Bam’s getting into his racing now, eh?
Yeah I’ve always loved motocross, I used to race when I was little and I just think it’s a good sport. All 3 of my boys love riding at the moment so that’s been super cool. I’m not pushy or anything I just like seeing them have fun out there and that’s what it’s all about.
What are you like as a ‘parent on the sidelines’ at the races?
I’m pretty relaxed, I obviously give them encouragement but the main focus is them enjoying it and having fun. I’d kick my own ass if I ever became that super pushy parent telling them to do better at something.
Are you open to the idea of his pursuing MX full on and seeing where it takes him, or would you prefer the boys to just keep racing a hobby?
I think I’ll support whatever they want to do really. I remember my dad wasn’t exactly a fan of MTB at first but he knew I enjoyed it and look what it’s given me in life. I think if you have a passion then you have to chase it so if there’s a sport or anything my kids want to do then I’ll do my best to support that.
True that mate. So finally, what’s your ultimate goal as a father whilst the boys are growing up?
I just want to raise good kids that enjoy life and are respectful to others.