AOY attitude


All photos by Don Barone

“Cause I'm on top of the world, 'ey…”

Dateline: Mille Lacs

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.”
Walter Scott

Passion, wins. 

That is the absolute bottom line in success.


Fear not the first athlete off the practice field, fear the last.

Fear the coach, John Wooten, his first coaching session with his players…how to tie their shoes, how to put on socks, when I asked why he told me, “It’s a game of feet, comfortable feet play better than feet that hurt.”

You have to be fully immersed in the sport to know that, full immersion equals passion.

Any one who plays with passion will beat anyone who plays without it.

I could write every minute for every day, for every month, for every year for the rest of my life and love every moment of it.

You ready to compete against that, you ready to give up your life for a word, for words?

I am.

Come play but if you don’t equal my passion which is all in all the time, you’ll lose.

All in all the time because I love what I do, this has long since faded away as some sort of job.

It is my passion.

And that is what makes this AOY gig so cool this year, the top two guys battling it out for the AOY title are both great friends of mine, and I know they play this game because it is something they cannot not do it. 

Every cast they make is lit, by passion.

Trust me when I say this, neither Brandon Palaniuk or Jason Christie ever take a cast or two off…they don’t have it in them to do it.


“…I've had the highest mountains…” 

“Competitive sports are played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch court, the space between your ears.”
Bobby Jones
13 major tournament wins
World Golf Hall Of Fame

I saw in his eyes that of a person lit by a press conference.

Jason Christie was surrounded with reporters on his boat and on the dock, all asking similar questions. No fault of their own, but how many different ways can you ask “Are you nervous?” or “What’s your plan?”

Jason graciously stood there and gave canned answers.

And all the world was good, all the world was comfortable because that’s how it’s done, that's what's expected.

After all the lights and mics were out of Jason’s face I went over and said only two things:

1: “Good luck, man.”

2: “Take the three point shot.”

Yep, shoot the tre… 

“…I've had the deepest rivers…” 

“I’ll let the racket do the talking.”
John McEnroe 

When it comes to sports Jason has two passions, fishing and basketball.

He has handed me my head in any hoops we shoot, in PIG I have never got past the P.

“Take the three point shot.”

And with that Jason jumped up from his seat, jumped onto the front deck and became completely animated, his arms were moving, his body was moving, he was smiling and laughing…

“You know db I’ve been close before but never this close, I tell my girls (his daughters) all the time, when you have the moment, when you have the ball in your hand and the game is on the line don’t be afraid to take the three point shot for the win.” 

Jason goes quiet for a moment, me too. 

I know he has now stepped up to the three point line.

“db, now it’s time for their dad to do what he tells them to do.”

Know this, win or lose this AOY this year, Jason Christie has shifted the ball to his right hand and it will be a one handed shot from the tre to win this AOY.

Passion isn’t the swish of the net.

Passion is when the ball rolls off the tip of the fingers.

“ can have it all but not til you move it…”

"If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won't, you most assuredly won't. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad." 
Denis Waitley 

To say that Brandon Palaniuk is like an adopted son to me is to tell the truth. 

Brandon reminds me of my son Jimmy and with me being away so much it gives me comfort to be around a young man who I can talk with and not worry what I say because it’s the same thing I tell Jimmy, and I know Brandon understands what I say as well.

Once all the lights were dark and all the questions asked I walked over to where Brandon’s boat was docked and said exactly this: “Enjoy.”

Plain, simple, “Enjoy.”

And with that Brandon unhooked his life jacket and jumped up on the dock and gave me a hug.

I told him, “Are you loving this?”

Brandon, “Yes.”

Me, “Love every moment of this, it may never come again.”

Brandon, “Yes.” 

Me, “Follow your passion, follow your passion.” 

And then a flash went off as someone took a photo of the two of us and we broke and knuckle bumped and he jumped into his boat and drove off onto the lake, and possibly AOY.

“…now take it in…”

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Winston Churchill