Winning without winning...
Thanks for taking the time to check out the Ambassador tips and hints. I decided to try something a little different with my first article, I hope you enjoy it. There are already plenty of great articles about the things you can do to become a better player and to help you achieve great results on the dartboard. What I’d like to talk about is how you can achieve success in darts away from the oche.
In my many years of playing darts I’ve been very fortunate to have won some great tournaments and experience the incredible joy that comes with having the championship trophy in my hands. As great of a feeling as that is it’s not my greatest accomplishment as a dart player. My greatest accomplishment is what I’ve been able to do away from the tournament match.
To setup the background a little bit it all started for me back in Feb of 2009. My wife Wendy and I were planning our first trip to Asia for the ADA BullShooter Asia V. My wife being a great player who had previously participated on Team USA she was invited to join Team USA and gladly accepted the invitation. Team USA was now full with Colleen Fornear, Wendy Espinoza, Ray Carver, Johnny Kuczynski, Scotty Kirchner & Rob Heckman. A short time later Rob had confirmed that he was going to fulfill one of his dreams and play for Team Thailand leaving an open spot on the team. When Bob Wiles from Arachnid asked me if I would like to join the team I gladly accepted.
On the day of the event I was up early as I was too nervous to sleep anymore. Putting on that shirt and representing my country for the first time was an incredible honor that I still hadn’t wrapped my mind around. I did however have a pretty good perspective on how the day would go. I mean come on, only three guys can play at one time and the other three guys were Ray, Johnny and Scotty who are all extremely good players who have accomplished things in darts beyond my dreams. I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t be playing but instead I would be there to support my team.
Scotty led our team into the tournament room waiving the USA flag proudly. I nervously entered the room with my team and what struck me the most at that moment was how supportive all the other countries were. Being the second to last team to enter the room the stage was already quite full as well as a large group of spectators.
The first round of the team event went off without a hitch and we were on to round two where the unexpected happened. As I said before I had convinced myself I wouldn’t be playing but it seems that wasn’t the plan. I was up throwing a few practice rounds and when I walked back to the table Ray Carver was sitting down and he put his darts back in the case and said “are you ready”? Ready for what I said, Ray just smiled and said you’re in the next match. I made a lame attempt to say no but Ray wasn’t having any of that and he told me to get up there and get ready, I was playing. That was the single most unselfish act I had ever experienced in my dart career. It wasn’t about what the win or lose meant to him it was about what the experience would mean to me. He was clearly a better player than me and our best chance of winning was with him in the match but he sacrificed that for me.
We ended up winning our second match but later losing the event. Even though we didn’t win the team event you would have never guessed that by the smile on my face. It was a great honor to play on that team and I’m very thankful to my entire team for helping make one of my dreams come true.
I learned a lot from that experience but most of all I learned how important it is to give back to other players and fans of the game.
I now understand how important it is to give back in any way I can It’s not always easy to think about others when your own game leaves you at a loss but it’s so unbelievably rewarding when you can ‘Pay it forward’ to someone else.
Here’s a little story about how I was able to give back and what it meant to me. In March I attended Stage 1 of THE WORLD tournament in Hong Kong. Before the Shootout qualifier my buddy Randy and I went to IDarts ThreeSair for a little practice. Having “misplaced” my own darts I was using bar darts to practice with. One of the guys working there offered to let me use his darts because he knew we were practicing for the shootout. I accepted and continued to warm up. Well I called it warm-up Randy was mostly just laughing at me so I’m sure I was less than impressive. Anyway that young man was Ho Ka Ho aka Mr. Sunday and he wanted to play a few games with us. He insisted that I continue to use his darts even though he now had no darts to play with himself. It was more important to him that I get in some good practice before my event. I didn’t forget that gesture and I had a plan to repay him.
Fast forward to Stage 2 of THE WORLD event I again made a point to stop in and say hello to Mr. Sunday. I showed him a new set of darts that I had just made which were actually prototypes of my new SHOT! darts. Right away I could see that he was very interested in those darts and I knew exactly how I was going to repay him for his kind gesture of letting me use his darts. We couldn’t stay long because we had to get some rest before the event in the morning so off we went.
The next day I was feeling pretty good and after my victories in the first two rounds of the event I was hoping for a great day. Well that didn’t happen, the wheels fell off and my next match was awful. I lacked the energy and focus needed to compete at the level required to win at that event. I think the 31 hours of travel and short night of rest caught up to me. To say I was frustrated and disappointed was an understatement. I really just wanted to go back to the hotel room, hide and forget about darts for a bit but I couldn’t, my dart day wasn’t done yet.
Later that night a few of us went back to IDarts ThreeSair to meet with Mr. Sunday. Once again he greeted us with a smile and welcomed us to sit down and have a beer. I told him we couldn’t stay long but I wanted to stop by and give him a gift. I handed him the set of darts (my only set of my prototypes) and said I want you to have these, my gift to you for being so kind. That was my way of paying him back for letting me use his darts and thinking of my game instead of his own. He may never use those darts or he may use them everyday but that doesn’t matter to me. Seeing the smile on his face is all that matters.
Even though I was upset that I went out in the third round I now look back on that trip and smile because Sunday may have been bad for me but I made Mr. Sunday’s day a little better. So if you have a passion for darts please try and give back, it won’t replace a championship trophy but it will bring you more joy than you might think.
IDarts ThreeSair is a club on the 23/24 floor with the 24 floor being an open air Sky Lounge with a great view of the skyline and harbor. IF you’re ever in the Hong Kong Kowloon area stop by for a game of darts and say hello to Mr. Sunday!
Rick ‘Espy’ Espinoza