We all look up to the top-flight professionals, and in the west, we are blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the exploits of Gary Dobyns, Robert Lee, Skeet Reese and many others. Each of those anglers are battle-hardened champions, and as people who make all or part of their living with a rod in their hand, they should be. I look at them and say… someday, someday somebody will look up to me that way, and then I remember that there are other parts of this sport that I love just as much than the success on the water.
As Weighmaster, and Tournament Assistant throughout this year’s Future Pro Tour, I was reminded of some of the reasons I participate in this sport. Certainly, I love competition, as a person who spent 19 years playing extremely competitive levels of baseball, I would. Yet, as I mature, I am learning that there is a journey to enjoy as I travel through each day participating in this sport.
One comment made me look at things a little bit differently. During an interview for a Future Pro-File for our first newsletter, I had the pleasure of interviewing two of the true good guys of our sport, Roy and Richard Desmangles. It was during my phone conversation with Richard that I asked him what he looks forward to when he is coming to a Future Pro event; his answer was simple, yet profound. “I look forward to waking up in the morning, and saying hello to some of the nicest people I can think of meeting, and shaking their hands.”
I have thought about that statement several times throughout the season, and in reflecting upon the year, I can say that I look forward to it as well. I love getting to the ramp in the morning and saying hi to Vince, the Best Man at my wedding, and one of my best friends. I also look forward to sharing a laugh with as many of the contestants as I can during the morning during boat checks. I got the chance to fish another year with my father in law Dennis, and I got the chance to get to know Sheldon Bright and Rodney Green, our other staff boat.
If I stopped and looked back on the season, I would also remember how I was struck by seeing the father – son teams that competed each event, and knowing that no matter where they finished, the most important thing was that they spent a day together on the water. I also got to learn a tremendous amount about myself, about how much I care about the people that Future Pro Tour serves, and about how much I will remember this inaugural year of Future Pro Tour because I was a part of something, as we all were.
Don’t get me wrong, I desire to win one of these events at some point, because I set that goal for myself, but if I never did, I would walk away from this sport someday knowing that I accomplished something greater, I shared myself with others, and I got to learn from them as well. I hope that each of us will take the time to look at what we miss each day, the smile that we give to the angler as we check his boat, and the laugh that we share. From the help that we give to a person in trouble, to the encouragement we give to the new competitor who is as nervous as we were before our first couple of events.
I suppose this is my way of saying thank you to all of the competitors who worked so hard to make this season a success, and to my fellow staff members for their diligence, and care of The Tour, and most of all to Vince, for allowing me to share in and contribute to, his vision.
Here is looking forward to The Classic November 15 and 16, and while I will work hard to be standing on that podium at 4:00 PM November 16, if I am not, I will be clapping for those who are, because I am honored to be a part of the bass fishing fraternity.