By Terry Brown
I spent some time in the boat yard at the Toyota All Star event in Decatur, Ill., with some of the best pros in fishing. Kevin VanDam, Aaron Martens, Matt Herren, Terry Scroggins, Gerald Swindle, Brent Chapman, Edwin Evers, Ott Defoe, Randy Howell, Todd Faircloth, and Skeet Reese were all there working on tackle, talking to a few fans milling around, and cutting up with each other as they prepared for the tournament.
While many of those there wanted to talk about autographs, the prior two days of practice or how much they thought they would catch, I dug deeper. I personally, was more interested in the bait they were tying on and the approach they took to get ready. I wanted to dig into their psyche and understand the competitor. I wanted to understand the mind set, their disposition and even though I listened to their words, I watched their eyes. A few simple questions immediately came to mind. What makes them tick, how do they always figure them out and what makes them better than the rest of us? So much of this game is a mind set, swagger or confidence and I wanted to explore that with them.
All of the other Elite Series events are about points, Angler of the Year and Classic berths but this one was suppose to be more relaxed. No points worries, no Bassmaster Classic at stake, no heavy pressure from sponsors to perform or to attend functions. This was to be like other sports All Star events where the win has less importance. It is about the fans and it’s about the fun. The fans make this sport tick and it was very apparent as they came out in droves both at the morning take off’s and at the weigh in’s. For this group of pros it was time to be on their best behavior, and it was “handshake and baby kissing time.”
Watching them prepare proved much more was at stake than relaxing for a few days on a new body of water. Even though it is more relaxed with less mandatory obligations, their competitive fires still burn too deep not to creep.