Every time we needed a sure fire , break away touchdown, I would call the play we titled......TURBO. All I had to do was just lead him a little bit and Pete would shift into TURBO and would be clear for the catch. Sure fire plays for touchdowns are hard to come by with 7-11 yr olds. they tend to "GRAB" all the receivers to slow them down. As quarterback, a good day for me with td passes and the beach football players would be around..id say....10 td's. As assumed , Pete is one of the beach players....as are his brother Andrew and his sister Madison. I've know Pete for a few yrs now. Although his elder.......BY 50 YRS, give or take, we act more like friends than an adult and kid. Do not mistake the term friends for any short cut to disrespect or lack of politeness towards me. Friends respect friends. Ever since his family moved to humarock,he has come down and asked many questions about surfcasting..and fish...and sports...and LIFE. The questions kids ask when they are comfortable and familiar .Our responses to these enquiries actually validate our lives inventory, by reciting the answers. Kids can assure you of your worth by listening to you..and believing what you say . Aging can sometimes stifle your judgement of your own personal worth.
Now where was I...........ah yes......the TURBO play. Turbo was named after Pete...cuz when he throws some fakes and turns on the turbos, he rules the beach in that age group. Pete is very rugged at the young age of 10. Almost robotically running pattern after pattern and diving on rocks and assorted other bruise makers.. I have even zipped some passes to him a tad hard and he has taken them off the chest...with never a whimper. Now I hope im not leading you down the wrong path here. When it comes to me throwing Pete touchdown passes...it is for my pleasure only. He does not need ol striper mike to teach him football, his father is an exceptional National football league veteran, so he has a great dad and a great mentor on football and life. But my niche with Pete...was ....and is.....FISHING.
Turbo is an observer.....as mentioned he will ask questions.......but he WATCHES. Evidence of that came the day I hooked up a small bass when he was younger. Although he is tough......he was still young, maybe 8 then. I asked him if he wanted to reel it in. He never hesitated...took the rod and on his first try.....Modeled exactly the way he saw me fight fish time and time again. He observed it....and then implemented it.
As a former teacher I enjoy discovering a child's avenue to learn. Pete's was by watching. From that point on, I have incidentally taught him by showing him things and giving him chances to watch me demonstrate. I stressed that he LOOK FOR THINGS TO LOOK AT. that's the same as asking a questioning child to keep asking questions. So with turbo, conclusions....came from accumulated observations and listening. Conclusions, in my estimation. are an advanced point of development. The ability to bring back what may have only been a fleeting sec in his life and combine with other things that he also needs to recall to create his conclusion and then.....DO SOMETHING with your conclusion. For a teacher like me, with Pete as smart as he is. It makes for terrific fishing times
Peek sun on hot summer days is not a good time to expect stripers from shore...so to pass the idle time..i would go over the items in my tackle box..for the KIDS.
The atom is a surface plug that imitates a fish fleeing from a striper...etc. "why is this one blue striper mike?"...why is this one rubber striper mike" This occurred with each cast able piece of hope I had in that box, from rubber to steel. I never deny pursuit of knowledge...I explained them all. Most kids like to hear me talk so my narratives keep their attention. Pete is there to learn........and I know it. So as I chat to the others< I make sure Turbo hears my every word. I can see my description bring about images in his mind, as he MENTALLY OBSERVES how each lure moves and why.
"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment".
He was the only kid who understood the correlation. The concept that these are to imitate small fish which the stripers like to eat. He was developing a fishing mind. Ive seen this transformation many times before. I was watching turbo show me his propensity to learn about surfcasting! It obviously came to him more easily than it did for the other beach kids . Im sure he didn't even notice it about himself......but i did... Im Striper Mike.
The next day I gave him an old rod and reel . I also gave him a small atom popper with the hooks removed to assure safety. This rod and reel was for casting practice only..He loved it. It was TIME!
The joy of teaching comes from using the world around us...not assigned pages in a book, to be recited. CASTING was the lesson de jour. Although Turbo is very athletic this was new and I concluded could be difficult for him. After his first few attempts it was clear that it was. Try a different way......the motto of so many teachers. Pete??...what sports. other than football do you play?.. I have hockey practice I go to. I like baseball, (he's a fellow New York Yankee fan)..i like swimming....and I like lacrosse.....BINGO. Ok Pete.....hold the rod like a lacrosse stick...use that finger to hold the line and then throw it like a lacrosse pass. I saw the light bulb go off. Almost every cast after that was much improved. He realized his advancement. He realized that I saw it too. I could feel my grasp on him that needed to help him with every phase of the sport..... fading away. He could see that his own independence in fishing...was with in reach !!
Genetics is an amazing part of the human race. Turbos genetics, from his dad, are very evident to me. His father has an impossibly hard job. It requires constant professionalism...composure. and seriousness. Besides turbos physical traits that resemble his dad he also moves through life in that refined, serious, focused fashion. In a lot of ways.. that makes us balanced as pals. Im very animated..he isn't. im very loud. he isn't....im very jubilant and he isn't. When Pete caught his first striper and had it on the sand...we stared at it....and I said.....do you know what your supposed to do now??..His answer was.......release it??....I said...no......the next thing you do is smile. I saw the grin formation...the" first fish" smile...is one that lasts forever.
Our traditional walk. rugby and mine...took us past..turbos house as usual. He came out and as calm as can be...told me, "Striper Mike. I almost caught a fish yesterday.....I had a bite!" Now the rod and reel I gave him had a plug with no hooks on it....I asked him to practice casting , so ....of course...I knew he was full a immersed in a dream..wasnt he?
Turbo??.....I didn't give you any hooks. stop fooling with me. he ran inside. and brought out ........this
That is the practice plug and a tiny rubber shiner he found with a fresh water hook in it. Notice how he figured out how to attach it. "I used this striper mike...........and I think I got a bite". he proceeds...."I was on my surf board yesterday and I looked into the water and saw all these tiny fish swimming around.......so I figured big fish were there trying to eat them (he gathered this from hours of me discussing these scenarios)...so I went to the house and connected these and cast it out. I think I got a bite". His eyes were undeniably serious!... I could tell he meant it. Pete??..I really don't think you got a bite ..but im proud of you for figuring out that cycle and attempting to invent a way to catch them. That makes me feel good that you pay attention Pete. then. with all a look that showed me how hard he was trying to validate his experience to me...he said....again..."But striper mike...I really did get a bite". With a pat on the back for future encouragement.. I said......well maybe next time you'll get him. But his sincerity made me look at his plug concoction..........again!
Recently there were alot of bluefish around and for a second I thought..........maybe....by some stretch.......one had tried to bite his setup. I looked real close at the rubber shiner. It was raked with razor sharp teeth marks!!!...He was right....he did have a bite. Now....that is the product that makes the time you spend with young fisherman all worth while. he learned about bait and casting and reeling....and different fish...and what they eat and when. and on an on. He listened and watched.....and on his own....made a valiant attempt ,to catch a fish...and dam near did!
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, The children are now working as if I did not exist." M Montessori
Turbo will catch many more fish in his life time. He will learn many more things. He is a fine young man brought up by fine parents and striper mike is glad to be his pal. So, as the winter howls.....I anxiously await my next 10 touchdown passes to him under the warm summer sun.......when he runs the turbo play! but, I also cant wait to see what life's menu has brought to his plate of interests.
Don't just say hi to kids....try to be one.....relearn all that you knew....again....by being their pal.