I made my choice, stayed in Boone and went to DMACC. I needed to find a place to stay. The school had a list of places for the out-of-town ball players. I ended up renting a bed from a retired couple, the Tams. They had a lovely, old, quaint house, and the bed was upstairs. The Tam’s had three beds, two bedrooms upstairs, and I stayed with two other guys at their house: John Hertz, a shortstop from South Dakota, and Rick Bishop, a pitcher from Montana. The Tam’s were a nice couple, but they had this little dog that would pee or poop on the floor every night. There was no bathroom upstairs, so in the middle of the night when we would get up to use the bathroom we would have to have to navigate our way through the obstacles left by the dang dog! Many times I stepped on the dog’s landmines. Here is an excellent visual: It would squeeze between my toes at 4 a.m.! I hated that dog!
At the end of the first week, I went to my first American party, a ”kegger.” This is a barrel of beer. This concept was unheard of in Canada.
I walked into the party and looked around, trying to see who seemed open to a conversation. I had a lot of options, because everybody was very friendly. After a little time making small talk, I asked, ”Where’s the keg?”
”It is in the kitchen,” a partygoer replied.
So, I went into the kitchen and opened the fridge. No beer. Where is this thing they call a “keg.” I turned around and asked some people that were by the fridge, “Hey, where is the keg?” A guy pointed over to the corner of the kitchen. I turned and saw three guys around the keg with a ladle. “Ok, that is a weird way to drink beer, but whatever,” I thought.
I started to walk over, and one of the guys stuck the ladle in the barrel around the keg. This was usually filled with ice to keep the keg cold.
He drank out of the ladle, and then he PUKED IN THE BARREL!
HE PASSED THE LADLE TO THE NEXT DUDE. THE DUDE STUCK THE LADLE IN THE BARREL, SCOOPED OUT WHAT WAS IN THERE AND THEN HE PUKED IN THE BARREL. HE THEN PASSED THE LADLE ON!
THE NEXT GUY GRABBED THE LADLE, AND DID THE SAME!
I turned around and walked away. Very quickly! Man, I thought I was going to puke, just writing this turns my stomach! I thought to myself, ”Now, I see why American beer is made weaker. It is because they can’t handle their alcohol!”
The next night, I went to a smaller party. It was a bunch of guys from the team and girls from DMACC. I remember sitting on the couch, making small talk and feeling a little uncomfortable, as I didn’t know anybody. Not too long after I arrived, they ran out of beer, so I jumped up and offered to get some more. I was trying to make friends and be cool. I figured this would be an excellent way to break the ice.
I came back with a couple of cases in hand, put them on the table and proudly said, ”Here you go, boys.”
There was a moment of silence, and then everybody busted out laughing at me. I was confused.
”Dude, that is O’Doul’s,” one of the guys said in between laughing fits.
“And?” I was still confused.
“That beer has no alcohol, loser,” one of the girls belted out.
Man, I was so embarrassed. I was trying to fit in, and I screwed that up. The party goers were wearing me out, and the teasing was relentless.
My mom always said, ”Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” and ”Just laugh.”
That is what I did. I just laughed at my mistake and rolled with the punches.
“Man, that is messed up! You Americans sell beer without alcohol? I have never heard of such a thing,” I responded, “After what I saw last night, I thought you all needed even more watered down beer.”
Most of the people at this party saw or heard about the ladle incident, so they knew exactly what I was talking about. We sat around drinking O’Doul’s for the rest of the night.
A couple of the people there were literally disgusted about what had transpired. They kept trying to stir the pot throughout the night. I would laugh it off and make fun of myself at my own expense.
Boone was a small campus and word traveled fast about my blunder. It felt like the movies, with little pockets of people talking and looking at me, laughing. The reality was it wasn’t that bad, but because of my insecurities, I thought that everyone was talking about it. Yes, some people talked and joked about it, but I blew it out of proportion in my head. I was sure every group I saw was talking about me. But, every group wasn’t talking about me. Every group wasn’t laughing at me. I joked about it with several people that were, and after a couple of hours, it was no longer fun to make fun of me. Everybody stopped.
What I learned as an athlete
At some point, I am going to embarrass myself when I put myself out there. I need to be able to laugh at myself. It only becomes a big deal if I make it a big deal. Life is filled with ups and downs. You only get down when you believe you are down. It is all perception. Laugh it off and move forward.
How I applied to business
When I first opened my business, I had to work behind the welcome desk. I was not comfortable there. I had no idea what I was doing. It was quite embarrassing. I started to spiral, because of my perception of myself. I had to take a step back and say, this is my perception, not the reality. You are going to struggle, just have fun with it. I continued to struggle for a while, but I got the hang of it. The struggle seemed a lot shorter when I started laughing at myself and enjoying the learning versus fighting the learning.
How I Apply To Youth Sports
Kids are sensitive, parents are hypersensitive. Instead of trying to control the environment around the kids, I work to give the kids the tools to manage the environment around them. The reality is they can’t control the environment around them. Kids will say mean things. They will get picked on and their feeling will get hurt. Effort, attitude, and actions are what we can control. By controlling these three things, we can control our perception of the environment around us. What was meant for bad, can be good. What is a negative, can be a positive.
Words only have meaning, when I give them meaning. Words only have power over me, when I give them power over me.
Laugh at yourself before others make fun at you.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
“I’m rubber you’re glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”