As I pound out this blog, I'm flying home from Orlando. I know what you are thinking. Family vacation? Florida fishing trip? Actually, I'm on the way home from the National High School Cheerleading Championship, where my daughter's team competed and did quite well in the competition.
I agreed to go on this trip quite reluctantly. I always want to support my kids, but just wasn't sure if spending four days with a bunch of 13-14 year old girls was going to be good for my nerves. My attitude changed quickly when I started watching the competition. Squads of junior high and high schools girls with fire in their eyes were moving purposefully around the ESPN arenas wearing team shirts with slogans like: "Practice Like A Champion," "Stronger Than Yesterday," and "Beasts of the Northeast." It hit me like a freight train. It was attitude. It was swagger. It was goal setting. It was positive mental attitude.
If you've followed my blogs at all, you know that I am constantly preaching about attitude and decision making when it comes to tournament fishing. Winning and being consistently successful are far less about fishing ability, secret lures, and hidden fishing holes, and much more about attitude, focus, and mental toughness. I'm sitting here in a huge arena watching, of all things, a cheer competition, thinking about how this was going to make be a better tournament angler. How often do I have that fire in my eyes? What if I made a point to always practice like a champion?
Then, it happened.
A team from Madison, Alabama stepped on stage. They were fired up, incredible athletes, and immediately started hitting some jaw-dropping stunts and acrobatics, when suddenly the entire arena gasped and the music stopped. One of the girls had suffered a compound leg fracture landing an aerial stunt. After 20 minutes of medical attention, everyone in the room watched in shock as this poor girl was carted out on a stretcher, obviously in intense pain. The announcer came out and addressed the crowd. He explained that they were going to allow that team to restart their routine, but that they were going to give the a few minutes to rework their performance and regroup.
Thirty minutes later, these 13 and 14 year old girls come back on stage with the entire arena chanting their name. With mascara streaking down their faces, they tried to smile through their pain, but the pain was unmistakable. They could have quit and not one person would have blamed them. They took their places, the music started, and somehow, those girls nailed it! When their routine was over they collapsed in tears, embracing each other and sobbing.
It was the most amazing exhibition of mental toughness I've ever seen. It's hard enough for a group of grown men playing in the NFL to overcome and horrendous and graphic injury like that to a teammate, but these are junior high school girls.
Now as I head for Nashville and get ready to start another season of competition, I think about those girls and their unyielding determination. Determination, toughness and never accepting "good enough" are what separates the winners from the rest. They are what champions are made of in tournament fishing and in life!
Until next time, keep chunkin' and windin',
BoatUS Angler Pro-Staff