Friday, July 31, 2015

Lord Stanley's Cup

I have had the good fortune to do some really cool things over the course of the last couple of years. Taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium and hanging out on Pit Row during a NASCAR race were just two of the trips that set the bar high for my kids.

Last weekend added to the cool factor!
Yep, that's the Stanley Cup
The sister of a good friend is married to Patrick Sharp, member of the 2015 NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. Our friend was kind enough to invite my family to hang out with the Stanley Cup for an afternoon. 

Serious hockey players understand the myths surrounding The Cup - you don't touch the trophy until you actually win it for yourself. If you do touch The Cup any other way, you jeopardize your chance of ever winning it. Well, as you can see from the picture above, I was under no illusion that I will ever win the championship. Let me tell you, I am a casual hockey fan however, hoisting that cup, well, I can't recall a time, in recent memory, when I have been so nervous. The image a a "Not Top 10 Play" on ESPN kept running through my head. The Stanley Cup weighs about 40 pounds however, you really do feel the weight of the history associated with this trophy as you are lifting it over your head.
2015 team yet to be engraved
a sad time for hockey no doubt
Such a thrill to see a magnificent piece of hockey and sporting history. My boys have been along for many of the wild trips I have experienced. Sometimes I wonder if they think this stuff happens to everyone? I joke with a good friend, who has also shared these trips with me, that we are setting the bar awfully high for our boys.

Is it in their future??
Maybe so, neither boy touched it

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What's happened to kid's sports?

I'm not that old that I can't recall my participation in sports as a kid. Where I grew up, choices were lean and toward the traditional side. Springtime was baseball, Summer was baseball, Fall was football  and Winter was basketball - my favorite.

I recall a few of my friend's dads as the coaches of my summer teams and you learned how to play along the way. I don't remember baseball clinics, swing coaches, pitching coaches and all the paid instruction that seems to have crept into youth sports today. I don't remember parents screaming at their children for bad plays, umpires being berated for bad calls and coaches who made our national past time a bloodsport.

Truth be told, I was a sub par athlete until high school rolled around and I found my calling - track & field. Sadly, my lone regret to this point in my life, I did not apply the effort and dedication that would have allowed me to be a much better runner at that time. I was good...I could have been great.
My AAA Tigers on Opening Day 2015
Enough about the past, my curiousness lies in what is currently going on in youth sports. I will speak mostly concerning the youth sports in my small town.

Where to begin? On the positive side, there is such a wide variety of sports for kids to participate in today. Beyond the great amount of choices is where things get dicey:

- crazy parents
- arrogant kids
- specializing in 1 sport
- private lessons, private lessons, private lessons
- travel sports teams
- recreational sports teams
- hardcore, over the top coaches
- poor coaching
- cheating
- nepotism

I could do this all day. In the last 12 months, I have seen every example of the above and more. As a volunteer coach, I have been subject to hyper-critical coaches, aggressive parents and ill mannered, arrogant kids.

When did youth sport become a status symbol? Parents, please stop living vicariously through your child. If your youth sports experience did not leave you satisfied, stop pushing your child to be the player you weren't.  Rather than push your kids to be great athletes, teach them to be good children first.

I'm doing ok but I still have to ask myself, where does the money come from? The amount spent on gear - $250 Mako bats - really? The amount of money spent of private baseball lessons, basketball lessons, soccer lessons. Those are the private lessons, let's not forget about the endless number of clinics and camps kids attend these days. This is such a tough topic for me as my kids are living all of these issues. Yes, I am, to some degree, contributing to the problem. My boys take private basketball lessons and I have paid for hitting instruction. Yes, they are 10 and 11 years old and not likely to receive Division 1 scholarships however, to be able to even be considered for some teams, they need to be putting in this "extra" time.
24 - that's my boy!!
I have had the pleasure to coach baseball and a little basketball over the last 6 years. I have run into all kinds of coaches. Sadly, what I see most are men who have little interest in coaching an entire team as they seem to have an agenda that involves seeing their child get all the help they need, the most playing time possible and positions that are best suited to their child's interests. I have been witness to baseball drafts that treat kids like meat - I'm talking about 10 year olds - I've listened to men mock children and their lack of ability. I am sometimes left to wonder what would be said about my kids if I wasn't in the room? Don't get me wrong, I've seen a few guys coaching with the right intentions however, the few good ones are far outnumbered by the bad ones.

This discussion could run on for days. I've already left and returned to this post over the span of a couple of days. In short, let kids be kids, don't force your child to play a sport they have no interest in playing. Ease off, the amount of pressure put on these young players will ruin them from the sports they are just starting to love. The pressure put on them will also make them look at you differently and, if I am wrong and any kid from my son's entire class makes it to the pros, I'll be the first in line to overpay for tickets.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Still not sure how.

When I first started fly fishing, admittedly, I knew nothing about my soon to be mistress. I would show up at the river and park in the usual, well worn pull offs and paths travelled by anglers, kayakers and tubers alike. I would spend some time looking for "fishy" water.

What actually constitutes "fishy"water? I had no idea at that time. I wasn't versed in reading currents, looking for holding water, foam lines and all the things that make some spots better than others.

Skinny water, low level water runs of the river were places I avoided on a regular basis. I figured fish needed, at worst, waist deep and I spent a lot of frustrating time trying to fish long, slow stretches of water than required a patience I had yet to develop.

A recent run to my home river reminded me, yet again, of a great lesson, taught to me by a guide from whom I learned much...don't pass up skinny water.

Every angler has them, the spots on the river that are yours and yours alone. Spots not to be shared with other fisherman, on blogs or, in some cases, even with good friends. One of my favorite spots is a stretch no more than 20 yards long in an area that takes some effort to fish. I was guided to this spot once and have returned a few times a year since. This is not a run that I hit often however, I am continually amazed by the size and quality of the fish that can be found in less than 2 feet of water.

returned, unharmed after a quick snap
The Brown trout above was the first taking while nymphing this run. After landing this beauty, I continued to cast, not thinking I would land another, equally beautiful fish, from the same area.

fought like a champ
This run produced the Rainbow above, and a couple more like it, before I departed as puzzled as always. How, in such low water, can fish of this size hang out? I'm sure there are logical, scientific answers but I just don't get it. This puzzles me the way powered flight does - I know it's mechanics and science but seeing a 737 in the air still blows me away.

As my boys get older, I value each and every chance I get to hit the water. Along with my wife, playing taxi driver, coach and fan keeps me busy. Oh yeah, my paying job does too! I hope I continue to experience days like this and that I am always full of the same wonder as today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Time to get going again?

I don't know.

Should I get back at it again? I can certainly find the time. I have stories to tell, opinions to share, reviews to write.

Why? Would I be doing it for me? Yes, I think I would be. The benefit of a blog with a microscopic following is that I have the ability to truly write about whatever I want without fear of anyone ever really seeing the topic. Let's face it, I started the blog when blogging was all the rage. I enjoyed it for a time but then, the blog became work. Feeling like the next post needed to be more exciting than the last, the pictures better, the fish bigger, the topic more engaging. So, I took a break.

Now, here I am over a year later and I found myself thinking about the blog during a recent night of fishing. I began to think of the blog more as a chronicle. The comings and goings of daily life however, not restricted to fishing but all things. Can this URL out live me? Will I endeavor to mark the rest of my days with some interesting pros with the ultimate hope that one of my boys keeps this journal going?

Yep, I think it's time to start up again...