“db, you’ve got to pay your dues, you just do.”
— David Mullins
Dateline: South Carolina and Connecticut
“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”
— Heywood Brown
Personally, I prefer to write sport stories about folks who have been knocked on their ass…but who got back up…and kicked ass in their respective game.
I’ve learned long ago that the value of sports is not measured on the scoreboard, not measured in the amount of times your at bat clears the fences, nor the amount of rings on your fingers, or how much money your guaranteed contract brings ya.
For me, the value of sports is what it teaches those who sit in the stands.
There, it plays out in the bowl below the fans a form of life with known rules and known time.
Unlike their lives.
Life, for those of us who watch the games, is akin to being born with a silver spoon in our mouths, only later to discover it was simply plastic painted gray.
In this here game some of who play it, sleep in the penthouse.
In this here game some of who play it, sleep in the bed of their pickup truck.
Some come with silver, some come with plastic, all play on water in fiberglass boats.
It is not about the fish, it is never about the fish.
It is simply about the fisherman.
And what he is made of.
“Decide what to be and go be it…”
There isn’t any “gave up” bench in sports.
You win, you stay, you lose, you go.
I was prepared to write a nice story about this David Mullins guy, someone who has been fishing the Elites for 6 years now, some nice guy who to be honest I don’t know very well.
So I call him up, he’s driving to the Santee Cooper gig, I read some stuff about him, less than 500 words because I don’t prepare more than that, preparation leads to lack of surprises and forces you down a path that doesn’t account for the twist and turns that is life.
He’s driving, I’m, listening and wondering how do I get 1,500 words out of this conversation, nice guy, but I’m sitting in my home office looking out at the wonder of fall in New England thinking I may have to pick someone else to do the story about.
But then, then… “db remember that tournament we had years ago at Clear Lake in California...”
I do and said I did.
“…when I left that tourney I had a thousand dollars to my name. Period.”
A thousand dollars to his name plus whatever change was in the ashtray.
“I slept in the back of my truck in parking lots on the way back East from that event.”
And with that I write down one word.
Only one word.
“…there was a dream…”
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
— Helen Keller
God bless the walk-ons in life, the guy who blocks for every kickoff until he picks up a fumble and runs 80 yards for the score.
God bless the women who are wives, mommies, and Olympic Gold Medal Winners.
In that moment of hearing of being a broke-ass Elite guy, of hearing about sleeping in the back of his truck, and that moment I became a fan of this dude named David Mullins.
“It wasn’t pleasant then db, but to be honest I think it made me stronger.”
Stronger only if you don’t forget it young man.
Stronger only if every cast you make floats on the remembrance of sleeping under the Walmart parking lot lights.
“I would park my truck next to Aaron Martens' camper in a campground, sometimes I could sleep in the camper when his family wasn’t there, most times I slept in my truck, did it for years, at least I had a place to shower in the campground showers.”
I’m just smiling watching the leaves fall and this young man tell me his story.
I’ve heard it before, never tire of it, to be honest it is the only reason I write about any game, any sport.
It’s why I watch the punter after he punts the football.
Show me what you’ve got.
Chops, or not.
“…and one day…”
“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”
— Terry Bradshaw