So who are these guys?


Dateline: Wonderin’ 

“If you want to go to a place you have never been before, you have to ask questions you have never asked before. Don’t feel shy to ask questions about things you don’t know.”
– Israelmore Ayivor

It is déjà vu all over again.

Eleven years ago, almost to the day I was heading south to “cover” (write stories) about a group of people I had never heard of before, in a sport I barely knew, and to be honest, barely even liked.

ESPN Bristol to me while I was somewhere in Virginia, “Just find a guy at their Classic thing and ask him what’s going on.”

Me to ESPN Bristol while I was driving, “What guy, do you have a name?” 

Three hundred miles north of me I hear papers on a desk being shuffled, then a hand goes over the phone as she yells out to the News Desk in general: “Who’s that guy who runs the B.A.S.S. games?”

Then ESPN Bristol comes back on the phone to me with the answer, “His name is Ray Scott something, not sure what his last name is…” 

And that my friends was my first ever real assignment covering this sport, just try and find a guy called Ray Scott Whats-his-name.

I smile now writing that, the truth is sometimes, the truth, in all its weirdness. Just a few minutes ago, while I’m once again packing to head south to once again tell the stories of a bunch of people I’ve never met, I took a moment to scroll all the way back in my photos in the cloud thing to see if I could find the first ever photo I took as an on-assignment B.A.S.S. guy. Believe it or not I did find it and here it is:

Seems I did manage to find Ray Scott Whats-his-name. 

That, no lie, is photo no. 1 of what is now the third, fourth or fifth incarnation of my career.

Mama always said, “Hang on boy, life is a mysterious mystery.” Direct quote.

“…well, who are you…” 

This time though I’m more prepared for not knowing what I don’t know about.

My gig this time around B.A.S.S. has been explained to me in greater if not shorter detail, “Go talk to anglers you’ve never talked to before.” 

I’m just listening, it is not in fact up to me to explain that quote, “Go meet the guys you’ve never met before.”

Yeah, that cleared it up. 

I may be slow but I ain’t 11 years slow. “Can you send me something about the new guys please, just so I have a clue since I don’t know them, or technically, what they even look like?” 

“No problem I’ll Google-doc it to you.” 

I’ve never met Google-doc either.

“…I really wanna know…”

After a couple of hours of phone instruction by my buddy’s 10-year-old kid I sort of know how to open a Google-doc and actually read it … but I scroll slow and carefully, I don’t care what the kid said.

What I’m looking at is a questionnaire that B.A.S.S. sent to all of the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers, both those who have been here and those who ain’t. 

It asks a bunch of demographic stuff, the who, what, where statistics of life, and then as I gently scroll I see questions that are actually interesting to me, questions that give you a glimpse into the dude, and then I see this answer:

“I’m allergic to cinnamon, favorite food is spaghetti, and I’m really good at finding four leaf clovers.”

I don’t know which guy said this but trust me, I’m going to find him, possibly one of the best one lines I’ve read so far in this sport. 

I don’t know who they are but this could be fun.

“…I really wanna know…” 

Slow scrolling I’m starting to get to know these guys, and here is one spot where the scrolling stopped:

“I don’t consider myself to be one of the most talented anglers out there, but I can dream just as big as anyone! My main handle on Social Media, #DreamBIG, defines my heart, my passion and my soul. Anything in life can be achieved with hard work and dedication. I do not come from fame, money or book smarts. If you’re not constantly living out steps to one day achieve your dreams, your not dreaming big enough! Our society needs more ambassadors and less politicians,” Derek Hudnall 

Yep, going to look him up too, going to tell him “smarts” just don’t come from books, tell him it ain’t about the money or the fame, it’s all about the game. 

Don’t know much about him yet, that’s sort of the point of the covering strangers thing, but I will whisper this to him now … you ain’t seen nothing like this game yet, play big and your dreams will get big.

More scrolling … stop:

“Winning is not about first place. It is not about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself and your limitations. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning dreams into reality!’

Don’t know who said it, but I will find out.

Every field of play lies within the heads of those who play the game. In life, my greatest competitor, the only one I worry about, is the one who looks back at me in the mirror. 

Win up top, and you’ll win on the field.

“…tell me, who are you…” 

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
– Stephen R. Covey 

I am not here to babysit these guys, not here to hold their hands, or cut them much slack.

I am here to cover them with as much respect and care as I’ve given to any other professional athlete I’ve ever covered.

I will cover them with passion as long as they play with passion. 

I will listen intently and talk softly, but I need them to know that for the last 30 some years I have covered those who are the best at what they do giving it their best every time at bat and I expect nothing short of that from the new crew as well.

I now know the sport, I now love the sport. Treat it as I do and we’ll get along fine.

In fact, I can’t wait to meet you. I’ll see you in less than a week at registration, come on up and introduce yourself. I treat everyone the same except for those who bear donuts and then they get treated a bit better. 

I want to leave you with the quote I liked the best, again I don’t know who it’s from, the 10 year old never told me how to match all the stuff up, but I will find this guy. Throughout this year I will hold him, and all of them, to this quote he wrote:

“My dad (retired but very successful wrestling coach) had a sign that hung over the door of the wrestling practice room that read, “Those who stay will be champions.” Pro fishing is pretty similar.”

Yes it is both with wrestling with what you are facing … and becoming a champion. 

The time, now, is yours.


“…’cause I really wanna know.”
Who Are You
The Who

“Winning is fun … sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.”
– Pat Summitt