Every mother has dreams for her children. They usually include growing up healthy, going to college, getting good jobs, finding the loves of their lives. Kay Unrein, Eaton resident and mother of Denver Broncos defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, says she only ever wanted her son to be happy. This week, her dreams—and his—have certainly come true. Just a day before she headed east to watch her son play in the Super Bowl, Kay Unrein wrote to us about being a parent, raising an exceptional athlete, and what it’s like to see your child succeed at the highest level. —Lindsey B. Koehler
As parents, we wanted to teach our six children many things, but three of the most important were to pray, to work hard, and to treat other people as they wanted to be treated. The kids never spent much time in the house when they were young. They were outside playing or working, doing their chores. We did our best to explain to them if they worked hard enough they could be or do anything—they could live out their dreams. Today, I am proud to say that all six are hard-working Americans. Mitch’s job is probably the most exciting of all the kids right now, but that doesn’t mean we’re any more proud of him than our other kids. We’re delighted by all of them.
Mitch started playing sports in middle school—wrestling and football mostly—following in his older brothers footsteps. Sports quickly taught my youngest son how to lose—and win—graciously. He experienced both the joy of victory and the agony of defeat as a wrestler and a football player. Honestly, he probably won more early on as a wrestler; Mitch was a state wrestling champion his senior year of high school. He always said wrestling made him a better football player. He must have been right.
I will never forget the call I received from his sports agent, Frank Bauer, on October 19, 2010. I actually missed the call—but the message said, “The Denver Broncos want to bring Mitch in for their practice squad—it’s a great situation for him. We need to find him!” Apparently, Frank had tried to call Mitch—he was at work and not answering his phone either—so he called the person everyone should call: Mom. It really was the best news—he finally got a call and it was from the Denver Broncos. Honestly, how much better does it get for a Coloradan? For that next year, he worked so hard—and then he made the team.
Watching Mitch play for the Broncos is such a blessing. To see our son fulfill his dreams is absolutely phenomenal. As we watch him, we pray he never gets hurt, as all parents probably do. He’s had a few things happen that were a little scary—a sore neck, a busted knee—and as we watched him go off the field we were always sick with worry. But, thank God, his injuries have all been minor so far.
The thing is, Mitch has not changed since he became a professional football player. He is still kind, funny, hardworking, modest, down-to-earth, and loving. He’s still our always-smiling son. We are so proud of Mitch for being himself and for all the hard work he put in to making his dreams of playing NFL football come true.
We will be going to New Jersey to watch him play in the Super Bowl. We wouldn’t miss it. Most of his siblings will be able to join us in the stands as well. Really, it’s a dream come true for all of us. After all, we have been Mitch Unrein fans longer than anyone. We pray that Mitch—and the rest of the team—has a wonderful time. We are, of course, also praying that they win.
—Image courtesy of the Unrein family.