I'm an angler, so of course I want to win. But I'm also a writer, so I appreciate a good story. No good story ever began with “He won.”
For the story to be good, the protagonist needs to be challenged. There have to be hardships, conflicts, twists in the story.
Do you remember the last story you read where the main character strolled in, got the girl, slayed the giants, won the game and lived happily ever after in the first chapter? No. Because even if a story like that had been written, it's not worth remembering.
No, you remember the stories where the guy gets beat down early on. Where he stumbles and falls. Gets his teeth knocked down his throat. Where he becomes the underdog. The oppressed. Because you can relate to a guy like that. You can cheer for a guy like that. You can scream "Get up!" for a guy like that. You can shed tears for a guy like that because you know what it's like to dream of something all your life and just miss it.
You weren't handed life on a silver platter, and neither was he. You have to work hard, and so does he. You've experienced rainy days and heartbreak, and so has he. You respect a guy like that, and you want to keep reading because all of a sudden you care about how the story ends.
My story is just beginning. I'm 27 years old and was one bite away from the Bassmaster Classic. I was one bite away. From the Bassmaster Classic! But, again, my story is just beginning. It's crazy but somehow I would feel cheated had I won this weekend. Had it come that easily.
Don't get me wrong, making the Classic would be a dream come true. And by "easy" I certainly don't mean that I haven't worked hard to get in position. But have I dreamed it long enough? For it to mean all it can? Have I been through the hard times enough to appreciate the good ones for all they are?
Even coming up a few pounds shy this past week at Lake Okeechobee, this is still one of the good times. I caught the biggest stringer of my life, the biggest bass of my life, all on the biggest stage of my life. And, in doing so, I found out just how many people out there were pulling for me. Thousands of you sent texts, called and emailed me. You don't know how much that meant.
I'm still in the early chapters of my life. My story is developing and the plot thickens daily. I've finished close to the top before but never led the event. I now know what it's like to lead a big event. The next step is winning one, and I'm confident my time is coming. I feel really good about life right now. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and I'm confident. Confidence is everything in this sport. Confidence is a scary thing. Confidence helps you make gutsy calls. And when they work out, that confidence builds.
I look forward to my next shot at the next Classic. I will be fishing the Bass Pro Shops Southern Opens in 2014, and Southern Open No. 1 on Lake Toho is just over a month away. I can't wait.
Thank you all for cheering for me. Thank you all for helping me up. And most of all, thank you for caring about a guy who dares to dream!