I have been playing darts for many years at many different levels. When I was younger, I always thought about playing and winning, but I never really thought about the image I portrayed to other players or if my actions had any effect on them. As I got older, the kids would get me every time. There was nothing greater than having a little kid come up to you and say that they thought you were a great player and they hoped that they could work hard and play just as well some day. I can't tell you how many times I came home and had my wife mail out a set of darts to those kids.
As many of you know, a few years ago, I suffered a stroke. While it was minor in comparison to most, I completely lost the ability to hold and throw my darts the way I used to. I have spent a very long time learning how to hold a dart again, dealing with finding a grip that would now suit the changes, as well as working on my stance and throwing mechanics. It's been a very long journey with so many frustrations that there were times I really thought about quitting and never playing again. But then I would get home from a tournament and start all over again. Since our move to New York, we travel so much more, and see many of the top players all the time. One of those top players would always take the time to talk to me on how my progress was going, and offer words of encouragement along the way. To him, it probably didn't mean much. But for me, and all my struggles, it was very nice to hear. It gave me the incentive to keep trying.
Just the other day, I received a message from someone who said they had looked up to me as a player for many years. He recalled how we had played each other in a final of a tournament and he beat me. At the time, he thought I would be mad, but he said I shook his hand and told him "great darts, your really going to be someone in the dart world, keep it going." Such a simple thing, but it obviously meant the world to him as a player that he still remembers it to this day. So I decided to write this article to make other players think about being an inspiration to others. It really doesn't take much but your time, and a few kind words, which can make all the difference in the world to another player.