The original soccer mom: Gwen Judkins relishes her seat in the bleachers

Published: Sunday, May 12 2013 10:54 a.m. MDT

“She taught us not so much to be the best, but to do your best,” said Jodi. “Whether it’s a church calling, school, a game, whatever, just do your best. And sometimes your best isn’t the best on the team.”

“My mom was a really hard worker, and she was so positive,” said Jeff. “She always thought her boys were the best no matter what. My mom was very giving of her time and her talents. And last, but not least, she never had an agenda. She just did what she could to help.”

Jon said what he appreciated most about his mom was her constant support and encouragement.

"She would come to everything," he said with a laugh. "And she had eight kids. She’d go to every game, sometimes they were overlapping, but she'd be running from this place to that place … I have four kids, and I don't know how she did it. She’d go everywhere to support us and that always meant a lot to me."

Jeff said he never saw his mother show her suffering until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997.

“I’ve never seen my mom, in my whole life, be in bed, ever,” said Jeff. “Chemo put her down to where she had to lay in bed. She was a very strong woman; she never got sick. When this happened, it was really hard because we were not used to that.”

Gwen Judkins had a mastectomy four days after her diagnosis, which came on Jodi’s birthday. She said she was sad and self-conscious about her hair loss until one day in church she was asked to introduce herself. She whipped off the cap a friend had knitted for her and said, “This is who I am. My hair is going to look funny sometimes, but I’m just grateful to have hair.”

Upbeat and energetic, Gwen also taught her children that being organized would help them take full advantage of every moment life would offer them.

“We had to with eight kids,” said Jodi, who accompanied her mom to her brothers' games, even setting up a concession stand, with her mom’s help, when she was 8 so she could earn her own money. “And with that, she taught us to value time — our time and other people’s time. When you say you’re going to do it, you do it; and when you say you’re going to be somewhere, you’re there. Respect others that way.”

Gwen Judkins can’t stop smiling as she looks at pictures of her children, and the closest she comes to bragging is when she shows off a picture of Jon and the Dixie State basketball team after they’d won the region title.

She wonders what her life would have been like if she’d been able to play all the games she’s watched her children and grandchildren enjoy. But then she just drifts off into a moment of gratitude that she’s been lucky enough to watch her children and grandchildren enjoy so many magical moments.

“Sports helps you to see life out there — the hurt, disappointment, people don’t get what they want. I think it helped me to understand a lot of things,” she said. “I just loved being there. I just really loved the people.”

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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