So finally here with the second post...
I met a really friendly local pro on that first weekend by the name of C. R. Willey. I told him my story and he was really enthusiastic. He offered to play a round with me that first day, even though he had been headed for his van when i got there. He showed me all of the best drives and approaches as we toured Cliff Stephens, and he did it based upon his observations of my forearm throwing style rather than the backhand approach, which i really appreciated, and he was just a really pleasant and informative guy. I learned from him about Coachman park, the other Clearwater disc golf destination, and he gave me his phone number in case i ever wanted to meet up with him for another round. Before he left I asked him if there were any tournaments coming up and he said there would be a random draw doubles tournament the very next day. Climo would be there, he also added. I left the park that day pretty excited.
The next morning rolled around and i had a ton of errands to take care of before i could go out to the park. By the time i hit the parking lot the tournament had already ended, but there were a ton of people hanging around by the picnic tables next to the launch pad for hole three, about twenty feet from where i parked. I looked around for C.R. but i couldnt locate him amongst the masses of people, so instead i asked someone if the Champ was there. Sure enough, he was. I stuck my keys in my pocket and walked over.
Ken was sitting on a bench just sort of hanging out with a buddy when I walked up. I introduced myself and offered my hand. The champ didnt really give me a suspicious look, but he seemed a little wary. I learned later that he is just reserved around people be doesnt know. He certainly wasnt rude.
Well, i am not a shy individual at all. I told him in 45 seconds who i was, what i was about with my book, and also shared my hopes that he might be willing to be interviewed for the project. He was open to it. I told him thanks and excused myself. Champ was there with his friends and just chilling out. I considered him to be highly courteous. In the year that i spent in Clearwater after that my opinion would never change.
I started going to the course every couple of days after that. My purpose was twofold, to improve my game and to get familiar with all of the local players. I knew that there would be some great stories amongst the locals and i wasn't disappointed. The tales of shanked drives, alligator dodging, local characters, and all of the other lore would have filled two books. To say that the Clearwater crowd was colorful would be a gross understatement.
During these days i ran into the Champ on several occasions. Sometimes we got to talk and other times not. As my face became more familiar to him, and he realized i wasnt some weirdo or some opportunist trying to get something out of him, both of which were probably daily occurrences for him, his personality started to come out, as did his obvious intelligence and ability to articulate exactly what he was about. I found him to be one of the most genuine people i had ever met.
More on my exchanges and interactions with the champ on the next post. Also; meeting my best friend in this sport, John E. McCray, someone who went on to achieve great things in Disc Golf, a path I could see from the very first.