For the first time in many years, Shawn and Claire Brougham didn’t need to divvy up a travel schedule.
The Parkville residents and parents to two teenagers started this spring sports season with one kid at home — Dylan, 17, while the oldest, Collin, 19, starting his first year of college in Neosho.
The children are only 17 months apart and have been involved in various sports activities for years and with two in high school at the same time the two divided and conquered, so to speak.
One went to watch Dylan compete in track and field, while the other got a chance to watch Collin throw for Park Hill South.
This year, they watched Dylan play basketball and compete in track and kept tabs on how Collin was doing at Crowder College through the Internet.
The transition to only having one child at home was different for Shawn Brougham.
“It is funny, you got two different feelings,” Shawn Brougham said while “One is missing him everyday. I hug the boys every day before I leave for work and when I get home. Not having him there for that was tough. It was also really exciting to see him move onto the next stage of his life. We have a lot to be proud of.
“In these days of smart phones and texts it is easy to stay in touch. Very different from when I went into college.”
Shawn Brougham was born in Kansas City in 1971 but his mother moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was two and stayed for the next 13 years. When he was 16, his single mother loaded up the family — him and his three sisters — and headed back to the Kansas City area.
Brougham earned his degree from Olathe North and the late-blooming athlete landed at Johnson County (Kan.) Community College where he ran track and cross country. From there, he moved to running at Texas-Arlington before hanging up his running shoes after a year there.
He returned to Kansas State and then his life started to fall in place.
His athletic days were over so he turned his attention toward securing his engineering degree.
On the professional side of life, Brougham landed at a job at Altec and has been with them since leaving Manhattan, Kan. In January, he changed departments and now works for a sales team and travels throughout the western states.
While at Kansas State, he met his wife, Claire, a native of France, in one of his classes.
The two have been married for 22 years.
When the family portion of life came along in 2000 when Collin was born, Shawn Brougham gained a title that was foreign to him and his wife: dad.
Both parents were raised by single mothers growing up and Shawn recalls the two having that discussion before having children. Shawn Brougham spent much of his formative life in New Mexico, hours away from his mother’s nine siblings and her parents.
“There was a lot of pressure to be a good father,” Shawn Brougham said. “I know it now, but I didn’t know if I recognized then, but I was watching the fathers of my friends when I was younger. I had a lot of coaches who were helpful and I was a baseball player too, so the other dads kind of helped me out along the way trying to fill the gaps. You can’t fill the gaps, but they were trying to.
“It turned out to be easy. All you got to do is love them. Tough love too. Make sure they are good people. Give them freedom to run but set barriers every once in a while.”
Growing up the parents watched the kids go from soccer to basketball to baseball and repeat the process. Shawn Brougham coached his boys growing up, teaching them and their French mother the game of baseball. In one of Collin’s first games in kid pitch baseball he struck out all nine batters he faced and his dad thought, ‘yeah, he is good.’
Both kids have dual citizenship here and in France. Each year they travel back to Claire’s hometown and they stay with her mother – with another trip coming up in a few weeks. The recent anniversary of D-Day brought back memories for Shawn Brougham of taking the kids there when they were 8 and 10 years old.
“They were reading tombstones of kids that were 8 or 10 years older then they were that died for this country,” Shawn Brougham said. “It was a pretty amazing experience as a family. It makes you appreciate kids even more.”
When the two children got into high school they each honed in on certain sports. Collin in basketball and baseball and Dylan in track and field and basketball — his favorite sport.
Dylan is a 6-foot-8 post player that became a force inside this year for the Panthers, a district champion and Class 5 playoff qualifier. He plays on the Mo-Kan Select basketball team and has already picked up an offer from William Jewell. He will soon attend team camp with Park Hill South at Northwest Missouri State University.
Collin just completed his first year at Crowder helping the Roughriders win a regional championship and come up just one win shy of going to the NJCAA World Series.
He had 36 strikeouts and walked two in 23 innings with a 1.20 ERA.
Collin Brougham has long dreamed of being a major leaguer and hopes to get the attention of Division I coaches to move onto that level next.
This spring, Collin Brougham hit 92 miles per hour in a game — his fastest up to this point. That happened the same day Dylan helped the Panthers win the district title in St. Joseph. Mom and dad were at Central High School watching Park Hill South beat Park Hill, watching the Crowder baseball game streaming online at a restaurant before the basketball game. Collin came in relief and struck out the side.
While they weren’t there in person, the Broughams got to watch both of their sons play the same night in two different corners of Missouri.
“I’m really fortunate and I’m glad I never had to experience what a lot of people experience,” said Collin Brougham, who picked up speaking French with all the trips to France, about growing up without a father. “Having a father figure in my life like that is amazing. He is someone to look up to and make myself strive to be like everyday. He is someone I try to mirror myself off of. He is a smart guy and knows how to talk with people.
“My parents grew up in tough situations. They understand and understood what it takes to be a good parent and a bad parent. All they have done in my life have been good parents. I’m very fortunate.”