The Family, Of UsThe Family, Of Us Meet the Family Of Us. Tackle The Storm Foundation owes everything, EVERYTHING to The Family, Of Us.
By Don Barone
"If you've got a problem,
I don't care what it is…"
I believe, in you.
In fact, to be honest, I believe more in you than I believe in me.
When it is my turn to bat and I come up to the plate, I'm only thinking one thing.
Clear the fences.
I'm not going to be an arrogant SOB and call my shot, but trust me, when it is my turn, in my head my bat is thinking "Center Field Bleachers," whether the skipper is calling for bunt or not.
I'm going to swing, swing hard, swing fast, swing deep.
Which is exactly why I trust you, more than I trust me.
Which is why I listen to you, as much as I do. Which is why I reach out to you as much as I do. Because I have the mentality of a closer, while you, you have the wisdom of an opener.
And with that you have opened up to me, the inside of the outside.
"…if you need a hand,
I can assure you this…"
I come from Big Time Sports.
The sports you sit home and watch. The sports you DVR or tape. The sports of all those extra "package deals" on your cable bill.
Frankly, don't know why I was there, why I went from news to sports, was shocked, as were a lot of other people around me,that I lasted in Big Time Sports as long as I did.
If you are wondering if I consider tournament fishing Big Time Sports, the answer is, no.
When I walk into a weigh-in and find 102,000 screaming face painted fans; when I see not a satellite truck parked in the parking lot, but a satellite parked in the sky above the weigh-in; when I become worried about that the last fish held up didn't get shown on the "Europe Feed," then it’s a Big Time Sport.
When I walk into a sports bar and half the dudes drinking longnecks have a KVD jersey on and the other half are wearing a Skeet jersey, and they are screaming at the 18 or so 60 inch HDTV's all of which are showing Tripp on stage and both the KVDs and the Skeets are screaming at the TV's that Tripp blew the weigh-in…
...Big Time Sports.
Be glad you're not, I certainly am.
Here's why. None of my heroes have been Cowboys, or for that matter, Bills, Steelers or Jets.
Or God Forbid, a Patriots.
I suck in the covering heroes beat.
That's because I have never stuck a microphone in the face of a hero of mine.
Because I have never interviewed my wife.
Because I have never interviewed my children.
Nor my neighbors, or the lady who brings the mail, the service manager who gets my 4Runner in when I just show up, the waitress who notices I don't have a fork before I do, the volunteer firemen in my town, the invisible working stiffs of life.
We are an upside down journalistic world. Don't just blame the media, blame me. I'm the media. I'm the problem because I cover the loudest, not the quietest.
I've learned to listen to the stories found in the silence.
I cover 4X, while the real story is found in the petites.
That is, I DID, until I came here, inside the outside, and met you.
Meet, what I call, The Family, Of Us.
"…I can help, I've got two strong arms,
I can help…"
The Family, Of Us.
Those folks in the fancy boats, Those folks in the not so fancy boats. Those folks on the docks. Those folks on the bank. Those folks standing in the streams.
My buddy, Lee a guru mechanic at Skeeter Boats and chief db waker-upper…hero. As are the ENTIRE service crews who tromp all over this country with us, who I know, have watched for the past FIVE YEARS work from dawn to way, way past dusk to keep the Elites in the water.
My buddy, Rick Pierce of Bass Cat Boats. Hero. I don't know who runs Ford, but if the person isn't down there isn't bolting the bumpers on some of those F-150's...hero...not. A taker, not a giver. Rick on the other hand is crawling all over the boats his company builds, actually asked me if I wanted to....no....but you know what...if the owner of the computer company is building the code...buy that laptop.
My good, real good buddy over at Vicious Fishing, owner Jeff ...hero. Jeff and I are real close but that doesn't give him the right to ask me exactly this, "Do you think this looks like pumpkin color," as he holds up some stinky plastic bait about six inches from my face. While I can't prove it I have a feeling that after he went his way, and I went mine, his way included a stop at a pumpkin patch.
The men and women all over this planet who cover this sport of yours. Dudes in speeding boats holding on with their KNEES as they try and get the right photo or video shot. Writers who get up at 4am to cover launch and who are still there at 4pm covering weigh in.
The folks at B.A.S.S., or FLW, or the Muskie Tour, or especially your local fishing club. Guys who after working 60 hours a week at their real job, still show up to run your Wednesday or Thursday tourneys, who still show up all weekend to weigh your fish so you can be king of your club. The poor dude who schleps that huge tent thing around in the back of his truck. The wives who in the darkness of the morning hand you that bag of food.
Every tournament worker everywhere.
And the pros...either B.A.S.S. or FLW, or MLF. All the pro's but especially those who don't make the cut, don't make the check, but who still come back, who stand and answer questions, who proudly wear the jersey of the sport even when the sport is kicking their ass. The pro's who I have watched stand and sign autographs long, long after the event is over.
I'll embarrass him on this but I was standing there as KVD met a fan, a fan who was deathly ill. And I was taken back when that fan asked KVD if he could have his tournament jersey as a souvenir. But I was floored when KVD took it off and handed it to him.
That commercial for the soda when Mean Joe Green gave the kid his jersey...that was Hollywood acting. KVD taking his shirt off behind the stage pretty much where no one could see, and handing it to the man...that was as real as it gets.
To me, that will always be the touchstone for what The Family, Of Us, means.
"…it would sure do me good
to do you good…"
I don't watch news anymore, I think the news people are out of their mind. I love my friends still in it, but I think they are nuts.
I wish they could come here, and meet the inside of the outside.
I don't pay attention to politicians anymore, I KNOW they are out of their mind. I don't know what America they are talking about but it ain't the one I'm roaming around in.
They NEED to come out here, meet the inside of the outside, I'd be happy to drive them around to see it.
If they used their inside voice, or better yet, no voice at all.
This country will be fine if we just let the people in it, alone. Leave them be, leave us be, and then watch what happens.
Sorry but it drives me nuts, if you aren't a real part of The Family, Of Us, how in the hell can you think you can tell us what to do. Get your arse out here and start smelling like fish, or pine, get to talking at way before dawn with all that sleepy crusty stuff still on your face, get muddy, have some clothes on you got in the Cabela's Bargain Cave, smell like DEET, have tan lines ON YOUR FEET....then come talk to me.
Tackle The Storm Foundation owes everything, EVERYTHING to The Family, Of Us.
Don't call it my foundation, I don't.
It is your foundation. We who are a part of it are only caretakers, stewards of just a simple idea, "anglers helping other anglers." Anglers helping children, the next generation, the future of the sport we love.
Being a part of your foundation has let me be a part of the greatest story of my life. A story of heroes.
When I asked for help in designing a logo I got emails almost instantly from all over the planet. From as close as New England, where Joe Holland, a great tournament angler and friend, reached out with a design, from as far away as Spain, Italy and even from someone named Gawie Pro Kayak in Pretoria, South Africa.
Kyle Robinson out there in Marion, Iowa sent me a great message of the do's and don'ts of logo-ing. Add to that offers by Jim Johns, Tony Hatten and Shannon Fontaine and once again, The Family, Of Us, came to my rescue.
And then, almost in a stealth attack, came the logo.
Came from someone in the real close inner circle of my The Family, Of Us.
You may not know her, I'm sure you know her husband.
But know this, she is as talented, she is as friendly and personable as her husband, Mark Zona.
She is Karin Zona...and it is her logo design that will become the logo of Tackle The Storm Foundation.
I love the logo, but I love the fact that it came from you, came from inside The Family, Of Us.
Came not from Madison Avenue, but from Main Street.
Came not from Beverly Hills but from Sturgis, Michigan.
Came from The Family, Of Us.
Which is as it should be.
"…let me help."
I Can Help
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