Imagine being just 17 years old and on national television on a regular basis.
We’re not talking about Justin Bieber, but it is someone who has similar hair. South Bend Washington junior Brett Banasiewicz sings a different tune to fame: he’s a BMX superstar.
In fact, this Saturday you can watch Banasiewicz competing at the BMX Park event on NBC at 3 p.m., and you can watch him go after the Dew Cup Championship at midnight on USA Network.
But even though he tours the world as a pro, he still has to balance being a regular high school student.
Banasiewicz is one of the best in the world at what he does. He even built his own BMX and skate park in South Bend
“Knowing it’s my skate park and they are saying great things about it is awesome,” says Banasiewicz.
Open just a few months, The Kitchen is considered one of the best BMX parks around. It is so good that guys Brett competes with on a weekly basis are coming to South Bend to train with the Mad Dog.
“First time I came into this park, I was blown away like how awesome and good everything is in here,” says Pat Casey, a BMX Park pro rider. “Amazing Brett can make his own place like this, it’s really awesome.
Banasiewicz’s mom Lisa is your typical mom. She worries for her son, and she can’t watch his big competitions in person; she stays at home.
“I talk to other moms and we all say, ‘Ahh!’ We do not know how we do it. We just support our kids, keep them safe, make sure they have the proper gear on them. Take it one day at a time, but it is nerve-wracking and scary,” says Lisa Banasiewicz.
But while the things Banasiewicz does are far from safe, he is not reckless. One of the big advantages to having his own park is that he has a place to practice new tricks – with the safety of foam supporting him.
“For me to come here and ride and do stuff into the resi and the foam pit is pretty cool. I probably wouldn’t send a double back-flip in the Dew Tour,” says Banasiewicz. “I would practice it in the foam and the resi and stuff.”
Banasiewicz practices all the time, he is on the road all the time and that makes it hard for him to do the things a 17-year-old typically does, like keep up with schoolwork.
Banasiewicz has a nice support system at South Bend Washington, with teachers who understand what he is doing and are willing to help him catch up.
“I really appreciate it and the staff here is great and just for them to help me take time out of their day and lunch hour is really cool,” he says.
“He is a good kid, he does what you ask him… most of the time he does things on time,” says Washington English teacher Amy Carter, laughing. “I’m happy to help a kid who, this is a big deal. I can’t imagine being in his shoes and get done what he needs to get done.”
Banasiewicz misses a lot of school, after all, he is touring the world. But his mom says that is what’s really cool about all this. Banasiewicz is getting a world-class education; he’s been to Europe fourteen times in the last two years and is off to China at the end of the month.
“He’s been to amazing countries, amazing food, with amazing people,” says Lisa Banasiewicz. “You asked if he was robbed of a childhood. He is having the best time of his life. He is lucky he does not have the added stress of being an adult.”
This weekend would be pretty stressful for most; Banasiewicz has a chance to be the Dew Cup Champion in BMX Dirt. But he views things a little more positively.
“Definitely relieves a lot of pressure going in as number two,” explains Banasiewicz. “’Cause number one, you are expected to do good. Number two, you are in the shadows of number one. And if you win, you are number one I guess.”
His mom shares the enthusiasm, knowing he’s still getting a lot out of all his experiences.
“If he wins, that is icing on the cake. I am thankful that Brett has traveled the world. He has seen a lot of things. For me, for him to be able to meet people he has idolized and go around the country, to top five, top ten. If he comes home happy and safe, it’s a good day at the Banasiewicz house,” she says.