“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
No ride is bump free, on the boulevard of fame.
Let Knoxville light the way, this day, to put behind us the cheap shots, the bitterness and the digs.
Let Knoxville light the way, this day, as we shake hands and go our separate ways, rivals maybe, friends yes.
Let Knoxville light the way, this day, this grand lady in the river bend who brought us all these fans, all of us to see us at our best, for while each of us walks upon the stage, we walk up there on the backs of those in the crowd…
…these people are why we play this game, it is their sport, not ours. We’re just stewards of their game, it is up to us to hand it off to…
…these young people and thousands of others like them. If we lose the popcorn and the smiles, it is simply, on us.
Not them, nor all of these…
…who come not to see our dirty laundry, but to witness our talent, witness our show, who come not to see the darkness but the brilliant light you all have.
Every new path we take in life makes us a different person, come to peace with that.
You were the star of the show, from my first night here where I got a glimpse of your colors outside my hotel window to…
...the times I spent walking around your streets…
…and your downtown…
...to be honest Knoxville, it felt here like home, my hometown of Buffalo. New York, also a older lady on a river bend, with a history of good times, followed by bad, but now in a rebirth with a vibrant downtown and city neighborhoods, each with their own style, coming back to life.
Knoxville thanks…for letting us use your beautiful campus to show our stuff, please know you’ll have one fan in Connecticut for a long long time…go Vols.
Knoxville thanks…for all you did to help us fill these seats, fill the launch, fill the Bassmaster Classic Expo. You have set the bar for all who come after, and for all of us to match your passion.
So down this path will come the winner of the 49th Bassmaster Classic. As I write this I do not know his name other than champion.
There shines a light…
…on all of us that reaches…
…far outside this stadium, all of us who write and speak of this game, all of us who take to the water to play it, take to the carpet to sell it, take to social media to share it.
There shines a light on us, for it is just but our turn with this sport, it is just our tiny space in time to gently cradle it, to honor it and those who gave it to us and to whom we will in turn give it to.
Of all that has shined down on me this week here, none has shone more than the small meeting that I had with a young lady named Lyndzi.
There comes to all of us tiny moments of special. May it be a brief cool breeze on a hot summer day, may it be the song you need to hear that suddenly magically plays on the radio, may it be the sudden lick of your hand by your dog who senses your need for comfort.
A tiny moment of special happened to me today, in a very crowded Expo Center, in a moment of feeling crowded in, a moment of needing to stand up against a wall for balance, a family came up to me introduced themselves and shook my hand.
As I looked down I saw 12-year-old Lyndzi sort of peering around her father looking at me. I asked her what her name was, and she just smiled and hung on to daddy, so I bent down some and asked again.
“Lyndzi,” was the whisper.
“Pretty name,” and then came the smile.
And to this shy young lady I reached out my hand, and slowly she let go of daddy and shook my hand.
“Do you want to take a picture together?”
Slowly she shook her head and moved my way.
And then as she stood next to me she gently leaned her head on my shoulder.
There comes to all of us, moments of special sent I believe by a force that watches over all of us, expects all of us to be kind and gentle with one another, and on this day, this week, this moment in time when I needed it a moment of special was sent to me in a crowded hallway, delivered by a sweet young lady named Lyndzi.
Knoxville thanks for the moments of special you’ve sent our way this week, they will stay in our hearts for a long long time.
May, as we all go our different ways, we take it within our heart to bring moments of special to all those we meet, to all those we compete against, and may we go forward with the same honor and respect that we’ve found here in this gracious city on the banks of the Tennessee River.
Photo’s by this dude: