Growing up, I worked really hard for what I did, no matter what it was or at what price I paid mentally, physically, or financially.
I didn’t always get to drive a $60,000 boat. I started out with a 16-foot Aluma-Weld with a 40-horse Yamaha. It had a Lowrance Flasher on the front and back. A year or so later we got a great deal on an 18-foot Xpress Bass Boat with a 115 Yamaha and got my first Lowrance GPS.
The only reason we upgraded is one day while fishing behind the house my mom looked out and saw an alligator about the length of the boat right behind me. She freaked out and told my dad we needed to get a little bigger boat. After this, my parents helped me with a few used boats while I was going to college but not with any entry fees or gas.
I did all of that on my own. I worked almost 40-hour weeks, took at least 15 hours in school, and fished as many tournaments as I could afford. This may be the case for many of you. I didn’t upgrade equipment, hardly changed line, and never bought new rods and reels.
All I could afford to buy was new baits for the next tournament, and that was if I did well enough in the one before that. Don’t get me wrong, my parents still helped me if I got in a bind, but I did a lot on my own. I hated depending on other people for what I wanted or needed.
In 2008, my Dad bought Tri-Lakes Tackle in Lufkin, Texas. This helped ease the bait situation a little bit because I managed the story for over a year. I worked there when I wasn’t working at Best Buy and when I wasn’t fishing. This was a very straining time because Dad was still a head football coach. When he retired, he finally took over it!
Through those busy times, I earned a degree from Stephen F. Austin University in August 2011 and secured a job on my own at ULG Contracting Services. I now pay all my own bills, and I get to fish -- sometimes when I’m not working.
Out of all that growing up, all the ups and downs, spending my last penny on an entry fee, and eating Ramen noodles and tomato soup for most my years of college, I can say it was all worth it.
Parts of me wish that I could have had a terribly rich family and didn’t have a worry in the world, but I’m glad I didn’t. I had to earn what I have in life and I worked extremely hard for it.
Going into the New Year, I have just as much on my plate. I have loftier goals (win the Classic, FLW AOY, etc.), a knee surgery next Monday (second one in 6 years), and a loaded tournament schedule (Classic, FLW, Bassmaster Opens).
I am thankful that my knee surgery isn’t going to be as invasive as the last one and hopefully I can recover in time for official practice for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. Looking back on growing up makes me appreciate all the things that I have today and to never take anything in life for granted.