Dec. 22, 2020

Sports Talk

Sports Talk

Good friend and host of the Hustle and Pro Podcast, Kelly Walker stops by to talk sports and all that implies. We discuss aging with sports and how life changes impact the way we play and consume sports. 
 
Connect with Ambiguously Blind: Instagram | Fac...


Good friend and host of the Hustle and Pro Podcast, Kelly Walker stops by to talk sports and all that implies. We discuss aging with sports and how life changes impact the way we play and consume sports. 

 

Connect with Ambiguously Blind: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

 

Transcript

John:

My guest today is Kelly Walker. She hosts her own podcast called Hustle and Pro. She talks with people in the Dallas Fort Worth area about sports and all that that implies. So, I thought it would be a good idea to have her on with us and talk about sports as they pertain to me. So, Kelly, thanks for stopping by to talk sports.

Kelly Walker:

Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here to talk to you a little bit about a topic that I don't think you've covered too much in general yet, which is sports on your podcast?

John:

No, I haven't really. We did the few episodes ago. We had the National Blind Sports Week, and we talked about some sports but not anything really as it pertains to me personally about sports.

Kelly Walker:

Well, we will today. So, I have talked to you in front of my podcast audience before about some sports topics that kind of affect you personally, but now we get to flip it around and talk to your audience and tell them your sports story. I am excited about that.

John:

Yes, and this will probably be pretty quick, because I don't know if my sports stories have much depth. So your podcast is the Lifestyle Frisco Podcast. What is it you talk about?

Kelly Walker:

Right. So let's see. I'm about 90 episodes into talking sports. It's called Hustle and Pro Lifestyle. Frisco is the publisher here locally in the Frisco, Texas, area. My show is a weekly show where I talk sports; From Youth to Pro is my tagline. I get Frisco ISD student athletes in and talk about what they've experienced so far. Maybe they've committed or signed to go play in college. We just talk to them about just how they juggle their life. Then, we have so many professional sports here in town that I'm lucky enough to get to work with those teams and get professional athletes in the studio. We talked to Texas Legends basketball players, they are the Dallas Mavericks minor league team, basically. I talked to FC Dallas players, which is our MLS team. They have a development team also. The Dallas Stars are here. We have a new rugby team coming. We have all kinds of stuff here in Frisco. So, I just talk to people who either play sports or used to play sports about whatever their sports iinterests are. We just chat, and it's awesome. I love it.

John:

Who is the coolest person or maybe conversation you've had?

Kelly Walker:

Well, I do have a favorite

John:

Besides me obviously.

Kelly Walker:

Yes, your episode, definitely tops the charts so far. So, I mean at my pro athlete favorites - Reggie Canon is one of my favorites. He's one of the bigger names that I've interviewed; at the time, he was an FC Dallas player. He plays for the US men's national team and he has, let's see several months ago has moved on to play in Portugal. So, he's no longer an FC Dallas guy, but he's a homegrown local kid. When I interviewed him, I think he had just turned 21. That was a fun interview. I had been a fan of his for a few years already. It was fun to just get him in the studio and pick his brain and hear his goals about wanting to go play in Europe. So watching him then proceed after that and get to fulfill some of his goals and dreams now is really fun to watch. So, Reggie Canon is one of my tops, but then even some of the younger kids like Hannah, Mondell my student athlete. She is a favorite interview because she was a soccer player. Also, I am from Wakeland high school. Just to hear how poised and goal orientated this young lady was, was really impressive. I've since watched her go off and play college soccer; the things she's going to accomplish are pretty amazing. So, those are a couple of my faves so far,

John:

I think it's sports that has created a friendship between you and I. Does that sound about right?

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, it does. It all goes back to, I think I've said soccer now three times. So, it really goes back to soccer because the connection that you and I have is my husband, was your roommate back in college at Texas Tech, The first memories about knowing you guys was on the soccer field when we were playing intramural soccer and coed intramural. That's literally the first time I remember even seeing my husband, Ryan Walker, was during a soccer game because he showed up at halftime once. You were on that team and we had other mutual friends on that team. Yeah, soccer is how you and I originally started to know each other.

John:

It is the soccer that binds us.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. It is. It is. Then we also played other intramural sports and you coached me in a couple of sports. I don't know if we actually were on the same team as players together except for soccer.

John:

We were on the same team as soccer players. I don't think there was a coed basketball team. So yeah, we coached basketball and flag football.

Kelly Walker:

There was a coed softball team, but I don't think you and I were on the same team. I think you were in the stands with Ryan watching one or two of those games possibly, but I don't think you were on that team, right?

John:

No, for some reason I've never been a big softball player. I don't know why, but I just know I was not on the softball team.

Kelly Walker:

The infamous game; I thought you were there. I don't know if you remember this or not. It was October of 1997 when I got hurt.

John:

1997, Kelly, that was a long time ago.

Kelly Walker:

I know. I mean, I can't forget it because I got really hurt. Ryan remembers it because he was sitting there watching. I just assumed you were probably with him watching also. I think it was actually one of y'all's mutual friend Kevin's team. I was on his team or something. I don't know. I can't remember that part of it. But yeah, I got knocked out. I got hit in the head really hard with the softball that night and got knocked out cold. My sister, Sarah, took me to the emergency room. I had been in college for like a month and got hurt.

John:

That'sa great introduction to college life.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, it was so embarrassing. I had a huge lump on my head. Well, I was a base runner and you know, safety wasn't top of mind so much, I guess. So I don't think we wore helmets. I was a base runner on first, the ball got hit into center field. The centerfielder got it to the second baseman quickly; he thought he could turn a double play. He catches the ball and turns to throw it to first, but I'm like a yard away from him. So his throwing it to first to get me out as a runner, hit me in the head, like before he even let go of it. It's almost like he punched me in the face with the ball in his hand, if that makes sense. The stitches cut my head open and knocked me out. It was memorable.

John:

I guess the runner at first was safe then.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, sure, probably, I wish I knew who was on that team. All I know is my sister, but I don't know who else was on that one. It was for sure. coed because it was a guy who hit me . I just had one bloody sorority t-shirt to show for it and a big giant lump on my head for awhile. I know you're not here to hear my softball injuries stories.

John:

Well, not because it's not interesting, but more of it's maybe a downer to hear about the iinjury.

Kelly Walker:

Stories, right. I bounced back. I still play softball for fun even as a 40 something year old. So, it has a good ending. So, like we just said, we met each other at Tech on a soccer field playing intramurals, but I don't know much about like your time playing sports before that. I just assume you played all the normal childhood sports like my husband played growing up. What did you play as a kid and loved the most sports wise

John:

Soccer was probably the one I played the most. That should be no surprise to you, but I also played baseball and basketball. I was tall for my age, so that kind of lent me to a basketball, although I was not that good at basketball, I did play, and it was fun. I played thinking if there was anything else. So ,basketball and baseball,

Kelly Walker:

Well, through like middle school. I'm assuming at Plano, you guys went to competitive high school basketball. Right?

John:

I did not play basketball at the high school level for the school. I did play in the rec leagues in the city. So we had between the YMCA and in where I was growing up, the, the city sports authority had the city leagues. So yeah, I played through high school. I played basketball.

Kelly Walker:

Oh good; okay. I didn't realize that. So, you say you weren't very good.

John:

That is why I was just the coach. I was qualified to be the coach in college because so much basketball experience. Right? Sure. Baseball - I probably stopped playing baseball I want to say at the end of middle school. So I didn't play baseball after middle school, but I continued to play soccer and basketball.

Kelly Walker:

That's a pretty normal cutoff for baseball to play through middle school because then you get that. Okay. Am I competitive enough to play for my high school? But if you aren't, the rec leagues kind of water it down and stop really? I don't know. They sort of stopped happening at least nowadays. That's how baseball is. So that's pretty normal, I think for to baseball fizzle out,

John:

But there are lots of basketball options at least back, you know, for me, when I was doing it. There was very competitive soccer leagues outside of high school. There were pretty competitive basketball leagues outside of high school and in our area. So yeah, we played those pretty regularly. I never played football.

Kelly Walker:

I was going to say, I didn't hear football, which is, you know, another one I, I would maybe assume you never even played like little kid football.

John:

No, I ran track in high school or sorry in middle school. I'm not fast. I ran the 800 meter and the mile and it was short-lived if you were not fast.

Kelly Walker:

Super fast at it. I never got into running ever in middle school.

John:

I don't like running. You know, it's like, you've seen the movie anchorman, right? Where Ron Burgundy is explaining jogging. You know, or you just go running for no apparent reason. That's that's the way I feel about running. So, unless I'm running from a bear or my kids, there's really no reason to run just for the heck of it. S Interestingly though, when I was in middle school, probably sixth grade I was running the half mile IN OUR FIRST track meet. I remember the bus ride to the track meet. I don't remember what I was eating, but it was probably candy or some sort of snack. I got about a lap and a half through the two lap 800 meter race and lost the contents of my snacks. I hadn't quite figured that part out yet, but it was, it was pretty funny.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. I don't just like recreationally run either. I never got into running as a sport when I was younger, I went to a K through eight private school growing up. I guess the sports offered were probably just limited. We had the basics, but not track so, was never on my radar. I never really learned how to be a good runner. As an adult, I try to run for exercise, but I don't enjoy it. When you said that, it reminded me of Ryan. The only time he's running is if he's running after a ball on a soccer field. Then he can run forever. He's conditioned to run after a soccer ball, but not just out in the street. If I say, "you want go on a jog? " He's like, what are you even talking about? Why?

John:

Yeah, I can relate to that. I don't like to run either, and I've explained that to other people. When you're playing soccer, you end up running a ton in soccer. If you add up all the running, you do, it's a lot. That seems like productive, running to me, not just going out to get some fresh air.

Kelly Walker:

When you're running after something, you're moving in a certain direction for a reason, and you sprinting - starting and stopping. One year I bought him a chip that goes in your cleats. It's like a USB where you can put it in your computer and it'll tell you your stats. They're really popular now. When we did this, he would chart his running in a game. It would tell you your burst speed and how many miles you ran during that time period. It was interesting because sometimes he would run like seven miles in a game, and you just don't feel like you just did that. If you're playing two 45 minute halves, it's a full blown soccer game and you're a midfielder, like he is, you run the whole time. You're just constantly on the go. What position you play when you play soccer?

John:

I was the usually defense. Defense would be generally what it was. Sometimes I played striker forward, maybe a little bit of midfield, but I was mostly defense. I don't know if they still call it this or not, but sweeper was generally where I hung out. I was the last resort.

Kelly Walker:

I still call it sweeper or stopper is another one. There's so many terms for each position. It's kind of funny because it depends on the era in which you grew up, what you call different positions.

John:

I don't know why. It's probably because of my skillset was why I was in that position, but I'm not generally a defensive guy. I would prefer to be on offense, but I don't think I had the finesse with my feet to be a very productive striker. As I aged, I was in defense, but as a kid, a very little kid, you know, five, six, seven years old, I did score a lot of goals back in those days, My offense prowness didn't age well, apparently. I did like foiling the other offensive guys. That was a lot of fun. A sport that we haven't talked about, which I don't know if that was really a sport for me was cycling. I think we'll talk about this later, too. I did ride bikes quite a bit as a youngsteras kids do.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Just like neighborhood bike gangs with your friends getting into trouble.

John:

My dad was big into biking. He would ride on long bike tours. We are from Ohio. There's a tour called TOSRV, Tour of the Sourtern Ohio River Valley. It's like the Tour de France, but it's in the southern part of Ohio. I don't know how many miles it is, but it's a two day tour. They started in Columbus, which is the state capital and rode I am guessing about 80 miles to an end point. Then they stayed overnight and rode back the next day. That's a pretty big time. My dad has done that a few times; I can remember him doing that. We would always bike a lot. My brother, my dad and I would go out on bike rides a lot. In addition to just goofing around with my buddies, we did some biking too,

Kelly Walker:

So yeah, you're at a little higher level then than the old neighborhood bike gang. If you actually had a dad that was, a cyclist and knew how to cycle 80 miles, that's pretty impressive. What about rollerblading? This was big when you were growing up,

John:

My brother did that. He is a few years younger than me and he had roller blades. I didn't, but I could squeeze into his occasionally. I did roller skate a lot. We had a skating rink where we were growing up. We did a lot of roller skating, but I didn't roller blade. I never owned a pair of roller blades. My brother went on to play ice hockey which kind of lends itself to rollerblading.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, sure. You gotta know how to rollerblade or skate if you're going to play hockey. What about skateboarding?

John:

I did have a skateboard. I had a Back to the Future skateboard, which will tell you everything you need to know about skateboarding. People who were real skateboarders, did not have a Back to the Future skateboard.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. It might've been a little gimmicky, a little too obvious.

John:

I don't know what they had, but it wasn't a Back to the Future skateboard.

Kelly Walker:

What they all had were the build your own kind. You buy the pieces.

John:

I don't know all the pieces,

Kelly Walker:

I was not a skateboarder, but they would build their own to make it hardcore.

John:

Yeah. I remember. It would be the board with a gritty kind of sandpaper stuff on the top, but it was covered in stickers and stuff on the bottom.,

Kelly Walker:

The graffiti looking. Yeah. Yeah.

John:

No, I wasn't a big skateboarder, although I had one,

Kelly Walker:

But no, neither was I.

John:

Speaking of baseball though, we did play a lot of whiffle ball.

Kelly Walker:

Oh yeah, sure. Baseballs like backyard type of whiffle balls. Yeah.

John:

Where I was growing up in Ohio, we had much bigger backyards than we have here in Texas. We had about four or five venues in the neighborhood and whiffle ball was a big player.

Kelly Walker:

Well, baseball is awesome because you can swing as hard as you want. The only bad parts are the sting of the ball if you get hit on your skin or hitting it over a fence and having to go ask a neighbor to get it.

John:

Sandlot,

Kelly Walker:

I just recorded a podcast episode about favorite sports movies and Sandlot was on my list. I actually realized my top five were all baseball movies. It was kind of funny doing my list because I thought, oh, they'll be all over the place. Once I had actually narrowed them down, I apparently most enjoy watching baseball movies.

John:

I'm the same way. What are your top five?

Kelly Walker:

O, I don't have my notes In front of me, but off the top of my head, Field of Dreams is a favorite because I know it's unrealistic, but I like the magical part of it. I love James Earl Jones, his voice and all, I love the whole thing. I love all of it. A League of their Own is tops because I've always played softball. I just think it's a cool story of watching those ladies play. 42 is on my list. It's a hard to watch movie sometimes, but it's important. It play's every year near Jackie Robinson's birthday. I do see it when it's on TV; I stop and watch it and I try to make my kids watch it with me because it's important. I like Sandlot because it's cute. I just think it's a funny movie, and just the love of baseball is cool. Moneyball is one of my top lists because once I started to earn about the numbers and the statistical part of baseball and learn about the story of that movie, I just thought it was cool. So I liked that one too, but I have a ton, but those are my top baseball movies.

John:

I seem to like baseball movies too. I think on your podcast, that Bull Durham was my favorite sports movie. It's just classic.

Kelly Walker:

So on this episode that I was just talking about our mutual friend, Brandon May was my co-host. I wouldn't say guest because he sits in with me sometimes to help me out with his, as you know, his basketball knowledge. Brandon's favorite movie of all time was also Bull Durham. You guys have that in common? I knew I liked that guy. Then we had three of us, our other coworker, Daniel. His favorite sports movie was Space Jam.

John:

Yeah.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. He gave a very compelling argument as to why he loved Space Jam and why we shouldn't have laughed at him when he said Space Jam. Anyhow, sports movies, are a whole other podcast, John.

John:

Yeah. We could probably talk a few hours about that. Yes, for surMaybe next time.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Okay. So I know the sports that you played when you were little, then how did that mature as you matured, What did you like to keep playing the most? As we just talked about, I knewyou were playing soccer intramurals when we got to Tech, but what did you keep up with the most?

John:

Keep up from a playing perspective?

Kelly Walker:

Well, I guess both playing and watching. I mean, those are the two parts of it.

John:

Yeah. I stuck with soccer probably the most. I never really got into softball and baseball kind of faded in middle school, but I would guess that soccer and basketball are the ones that I really stuck with me.

Kelly Walker:

As far as watching goes, I mean, you were always a football watcher or no.

John:

Yes, yes. Always a football watcher, but I think probably the sport that I like to watch the most is baseball.

Kelly Walker:

You don't hear that every day. I love to watch baseball too.

John:

Yeah. I don't know why that is, but there's something about a baseball game.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. There's a lot of people that can't watch baseball games. They think it's too slow and boring, but I like when I'm really wanting to watch a game. I love every second in between when they're just talking about pitch count and different pitches they're going to throw and watching the guys lead off and just all the different nuances of the sport. I love really getting to focus on and watch a game. I haven't lately because when the Rangers aren't playing well, they' are my team. I'm from Texas and I've always lived here. So I'm a Rangers fan. So when they're not playing well, especially seasons like 2020, it was really hard to like sit down and really be totally into a full game. When they have good seasons and there is something to entice me to really get in and watch every game, I love it.

John:

Also, regarding baseball, I think I would really get into having the Sunday night game on ESPN. It was always a good game. It was interesting because I like football too, but I found myself not being interested in Monday night football as much in the last say 10 years, just for whatever reason. I don't why, but football you know, the teams I like to follow, I like to follow, but if the Monday night football game wasn't a team I was interested in I didn't really want to watch it. But Sunday night baseball for me, for some reason always seemed like an intriguing matchup. It was always a good thing. I can always remember wanting to sit down and watch the Sunday night baseball game.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Same here with certain football games. Unless it's my team. I sometimes can't get into it. Unless it's a big storyline, you know, it's a big rivalry game, or I don't know, some play off implication or something major happening or just a player that you like really watch. Like I'll watch Chief's games now because I'm in the home stand. And I just want to see what he's up to and that kind of thing. But overall, I'm, I'm pretty much just going to be watching the Cowboys and whoever they're up against it that week. So what about you though, splitting time between a couple of States growing up what's your football flavor?

John:

Well, my primary football flavor would be the Cincinnati Bengals and pretty close to that would be the Dallas Cowboys. But for the last 15 to 20 years, that's been some pretty tough watching and following actually longer for the Bengals. The Bengals were in the Super Bowl, I think in 1986, seven or eight, I don't remember what year it was.

Kelly Walker:

That's dry spells then, but hey, you know, it always comes around. So you've put in a lot of time as both of those fans. So when yours rolls around, you're going to get hit with like some really good football years for both of your teams here pretty soon, you know?

John:

Yeah. Well, yeah. That's wat I am tinking. Yeah. If the Bengals were there, let's just say 87, of course they lost. Joe Montana beat them in the Super Bowl. Then skip forward about three or four years later, the Cowboys start just knocking it out. So tere is three, three early nineties. Cowboys teams were just in the age group that I was in, and that was, that was just unbelievable.

Kelly Walker:

That was it. Yeah. 93, four or five or three, four, six.

John:

Four, six. But there has not been anything for the Bengals or the Cowboys since.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Play off games here and there, but nothing to really write home about. it's tough, but that's why we stick with sports because it's not always unless you're in Boston or LA. Lately, it's not always winning all the time. Right. You stick with it and hope that your team comes around because there's always a chance that next season something could happen. So we always go back and keep watching.

John:

But like life, you know, you don't win every time.

Kelly Walker:

Right. But you've got to go back and see if you can get better. When you're talking about football and watching, I'm curious, consuming sports in person, ignore the fact that we're not really able to be in person at sports like we would the rest of our lives right now, ignoring that. How do you feel about consuming sports in person versus TV or listening to the radio?

John:

Yeah, that's an interesting question. That certainly has changed for me since the visual changes that I've had. I would love to go to sporting events prior to vision change. We did have season tickets to those Cowboy years. I was at a lot of those games and the Rangers, the Dallas Stars, all the Dallas teams and I couldn't get enough of that. It was just awesome. Especially at the age I was, but after the vision loss, it's not as exciting to be there mostly because I can't see what's going on. For example, a Cowboys game, is what I typically would do. And I've been to some Cowboys games after vision change. So for me, I'm there for the excitement of being there, and I can see. You know, I've talked about in previous episodes. I've talked about my visual acuity and how that translates to what I can actually see. That's really tough to describe, which is why I call myself ambiguously blind. And being in a sporting arena of a football game or a basketball game or any game, I really can't get a good feel for, I usually feed off of crowd noise. If it's a basketball game, and I'm at the home team's arena and everybody goes nuts after somebody throws the ball up, then I just assume theymade it.

Kelly Walker:

Right. I can imagine though, after vision loss, being at a Cowboys game, I mean, that's a sport where as a spectator, you're watching and paying attention to, you know, the first down marker. Those are small details far away from you that you need to be aware of how far are they going? How far did they just go? You, probably sitting in the stands, can't see that and take that in. Right. So then you're just waiting to hear the reactions.

John:

Did he catch that? Did the tight end really throw a bad block or was it really holding or what was this person doing? I rely totally on the PA system, you know, to kind of know what's going on. But the thing that I would do to make it more palatable for me is I would bring a radio. You've seen those people in the stands that happens a lot more at baseball games, I think, but you see the people in the stands that are there, but they've got their headphones on because they're listening to the play by play. So for me to go to any event, I need to have the radio broadcast in my ears, or it's really meaningless for me to be there. So I will fight through the traffic to get through all the sea of people come in and go in a 40 bucks for a Coke and really not consume much of actually what's going on if I don't have access to the play-by-play or whatever.

Kelly Walker:

I mean, that makes total sense. Even me, I have no, you know, visual challenges of seeing anything out there Going into a Cowboys game isn't that great. I prefer watching them on TV so that I can watch it at my own pace. I can hear the announcers, I can see the replays and its just fine. it's, it's one of those sports that is not all it's cracked up to be being in person for me. Other sports I enjoy it. I love being at a Rangers game. We go to every FC Dallas home game. I do not like watching soccer on TV when I'm a season ticket holder and know how it feels to be a few rows up and seeing all the nuances and hearing the ball had hit their cleats and everything. But yeah, I can't even imagine why you would want to be at a Cowboys game.

John:

Yeah. I would say just to understand what it is like, just imagine you're there and close your eyes and see what you take in now. There's lots of stuff to take in. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of things to be heard and other things like that. But if, if you have the play-by-play in your ear, it makes it light years ahead. I will say play by plays are not equal among sports either. I don't know exactly why maybe because it's been broadcast so much or so long on a play by play basis. It's baseball. I generally, I'm a Texas Rangers fan too, and will listen to lots of Texas Rangers games and the great Eric Natel, I don't know what it is. I mean, he's got a soothing voice and a great sound and all that kind of stuff. His knowledge and everything is really great, but really I think any baseball broadcaster will they go through so many new details of things that the other sports do not, you know, I can remember, I can just hear Eric, Natel saying the color of the piping on the pants of the team that's playing, you know?

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Giving you such a description that you can paint that picture. You can see it in your head. You can see the font of the team's name or logo on their jersey and what colors they are. And, you know, the broadcaster gives you details about what the pitcher's doing.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. As you say, the breeze of the air, everything, like it's just that they give you so much information.

John:

Baseball is really a pleasure to listen to not to mention the fact that baseball is a talking sport anyway because there is a lot of downtime. There's so much time to fill that they give you all those details. I really like listening to baseball. I like watching baseball on TV, and I like really like listening to baseball. Even if I am going to be at at a game, I think the one I would like to be at the most would be a baseball game because of the amount of detail I can get.

Kelly Walker:

That's how I grew up. My dad watched Rangers games on the TV, but he listened to them on the radio and muted the TV. That's just sort of how I grew up. Those are the voices that I was used to hearing and the descriptions and just the way it was delivered. That's what I was used to. That's why I love baseball so much just because we were we watched every sport in our household. There's so much baseball to be watched that it feels like there was always a baseball game on. You said something a while ago that I wanted to ask you about as far as listening in. What about NASCAR and sports like that which are really designed for fans to be like listening in on the team's wavelength. Have you ever gotten into that?

John:

Just a little bit. For some reason, I'm not a big NASCAR guy. I don't hate it, but I'm not a lover either. So yeah, no. I've been to some NASCAR races. If people think baseball's boring, I don't know what to tell you about a NASCAR race. I mean, they go around in circles. I think they're obviously very talented and they do what they do at high speed and proximity. They are going 80 to 120 miles an hour within inches of another car. That is pretty amazing. No, I've never listened to that.

Kelly Walker:

It's amazing. I give them all the props, but I don't get it either. I don't get when the people around us are wearing eadpones and listening to te feed. We have been a Texas Motor Speedway for Indy car and NASCAR a couple of times. I guess they're listening to the guys talk, communicate with each other with pit stops and different things. I never really dove into it enough to fully understand and embrace it, but Formula One, I've paid more attention to the last few years. It's very interesting to me. I don't think I'm going to get into Formula One as a grown adult, but I can see how that would be a really interesting sport to follow as somebody who can listen in to what their actual strategy is in real time as they're racing.

John:

Yeah. I see how that would be cool. I've heard some of those, you know, the talk, but the chatter between the drivers and the pit crews and all the spotters and those guys sounds cool. I's interesting to me for a little bit, but I just can't get into racing like that.

Kelly Walker:

What about The Ticket? I listen; I consume a lot of my sports information via The Ticket. I don't consume sports when they are doing coverage of certain things. If they happen to be doing post game shows, I don't really consume it that way. I get a lot of my sports info from there. Are you a Ticket listener? Yes. I'm a P one. Yes, me too. So do you understand when they're talking? Okay. When they're talking about someting like The Masters, and when they're talking about hail throws, and they do a 15 minute segment on a specific play or something, and it's something that you couldn't see yourself because maybe you don't watch golf or maybe you didn't see the football game, but depending on how well you can see plays on your TV, do you like it when that happens on The Ticket or do you tune out? I didn't consume it visually as they did.

John:

Well, I don't know I guess that depends on specifically what it is generally. I won't leave The Ticket because of they're talking about something I'm not interested in. They generally are pretty on point for what I'm interested in. Even if I couldn't see it because of my vision, often times, especially in life recently, I don't see a lot of sports anyway, because there's too many things going on. There's a pretty good chanc I haven't seen a play they're talking about anyway. Generally speaking, because they're an audio medium, I think they do a pretty good job of describing what they're talking about. Assuming that some people, or maybe many people haven't seen the play. I can generally pick up on those things. I don't feel left out in that regard.

Kelly Walker:

Good. Yeah. I was curious because I've either usually seen what they're talking about or I'll go pull it if it's something I'm really curious about. Okay. I want to circle back though, when you mentioned cycling. So what about the Tour de France? Are you watching that unfold when, when that's happening in the summers? No.

John:

I'm a fair weather fan. So when Lance Armstrong's winning six in a row, doping or not, watching that was the height of my Tour de France consumption. I mean, you know what happens in July each year? So when, when I'm watching sports channels like ESPN or listening to The Ticket,, I'm interested in what they say about it, but I'm not going to go watch the time trials or the certain days recaps. I'm not going after the information, but when it's there, I'm interested in what it is, I guess.

Kelly Walker:

But for me cycling, something like that, it's like highlights only hit the high points and something dramatic happened. Did somebody take over; did somebody fall? What was the drama about it? Or the high points? And that's about it for me, but it's interesting. I think that's a really interesting sport. I've just never gotten into it, competitively like that. So I'm just a very, very watered down fan, but biking in general. I want to ask you about that because when you were on my podcast, we talked about that a lot. I was surprised to know that it seems like something you're getting back into inthis day and age. Tell me, what's the most recent of your biking experiences?

John:

Yeah, so I have recently started biking through the lockdown process. We've had a lot of time to spend at home, you know, maybe too much. We're trying to find things to do, and we've got some kiddos at home and we've got to figure out something to do with them. Not that we wouldn't be doing this anyway, but it just seemed to be the right time for us to start doing biking. They took to it. All of a sudden, we've got some bikers in the house and mom and dad now have to keep up with that. It was pretty easy when they were on a tricycle or a balance bike. We could mostly keep up with them, but after they get the training wheels off and on two wheels iand as I mentioned, I don't like running, so I'm certainly not going to run after them as well. So we started getting into some biking and quickly realized that we needed some bikes of our own. My wife, Erin and I didn't have bikes. I don't know really why she did not. Other than that, she just doesn't ride bikes. For me, I didn't have one either. I didn't know that I couldn't ride one. I certainly have done a lot of bike riding in my life, but since vision change, I really haven't ridden a bike.

Kelly Walker:

It wasn't something you expected to be doing. It's not like you're going to just have a bike laying around. I mean, a lot of us, when you leave your childhood era, you don't really have a bike. I got a bike in college because we lived so close to campus. Of course it was something so cheap that you leave it there. When you get into your adult life a bike, isn't typically one of the first things you invest in and hang on to for 20 years. You only get it when you feel the need to invest in one that you're going to be riding around for a while. It doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't have one.

John:

That's probably how I would describe what happened with us. We got a bike for for Erin and she really liked riding it. One day, I just decided I would try to take her bike for a spin. The old saying is true. You never forget how to ride a bike. I rode it and very quickly really liked the sensation. I mean, the feel of moving at that speed, and the ability to get from one end of the block to the other in a much faster pace and the autonomy of just being able to go,

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, the freedom. There's something about riding a bike, right? There's just some feeling,

John:

Oh yeah, the wind blowing through my hair. Erin was riding a lot. When I started riding, we had an issue because we only had one bike and there was two of us. As it turned out, I got a bike and I've been going pretty bananas with biking. For me, it's really been in addition to just the coolness of biking or the exercise element of biking and the activity level, which is good. I've really done a lot of exploring around my neighborhood because don't drive. There were parts of areas that I just hadn't been to. I've been there but because we were in the car moving faster, or we're walking through the neighborhood. I didn't really get a time to go exactly where I want to go when I want to go there and see exactly what I want to see or look at something in particular. So I've explored every square inch of our neighborhood now - up and down the streets, through the fields, up and down the alleys and through the construction sites. And I've been pretty active. Yeah.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Your childhood bike gang got to come back out and it is fun to go into the crevices of your neighborhood that you can't access with a car and just sort of see where this creek goes or where this path goes or what's back here and going between places that you just never go. There's something very interesting about it. That's awesome that you're out there exploring and biking.

John:

For me, it's exhilarating and really terrifying from second to second. There haven't had any close encounters yet, but it's because I've mainly only stayed within our neighborhood. It's a pretty good size neighborhood. I try to stay in the street and the sidewalks, but there's lots of cars, but nothing like a main street. I hope to venture out; I actually have crossed some pretty major streets into other neighborhoods and when there are appropriate crosswalks available. So I'm confident I can do that without issue. I've had the bike for about three months now. After a few weeks of riding it, I got a tracking app on my phone. Since I've got the tracking app installed, I'm at about 200 miles of biking according to the app,

Kelly Walker:

That sounds like a lot. Well,

John:

Considering I have ridden zero miles for the last 20 years, roughly 200 miles in about a three month time period is pretty extraordinary, a pretty dramatic change.

Kelly Walker:

Your pace is high.

John:

I don't know how long I can maintain that.

Kelly Walker:

Just promise me that if you do venture out to the big roads and you're going on really big multi-lane roads that you have a buddy, I just feel like you need a buddy with you. I feel like that with any biker, anybody cycling around,

John:

Yeah. Buddies are always good, especially in the cycling or running world. Things can happen, too. I mean, I've even had my chains come loose and I've had to try to fix it. That that stuff happens. There's a coffee shop about that require a crossing of a street two ways. That is on my list of things to do pretty soon.

Kelly Walker:

Take a friend or Erin.

John:

Well, the problem is I really can't take Erin.

Kelly Walker:

I can come sit with your family and you guys can go get your coffee and go on a biking coffee date.

John:

I would love to do that. I mean, we've talked about it, but there's just so many things that have to happen for that even that small of an activity to make sense. We really can't go biking together right now. I mean, we go together as a family, but as, as you know, with having kids, especially depending upon their ages, it isn't really always a lot of biking that happens at our age. It's a lot of standing still and drinking water.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Readjusting. I get that. I remember that. I'm talking about being worried about you going out on your own to take on that adventure. Have there been any times when you have, with your vision loss, been actually worried or feared for your safety when you're doing something sporty or has that come up?

John:

Yeah, it has probably somewhat regularly. It depends on what kind of sports you're talking about. Crossing the, street, watching a movie can be a sport. If you remember Chris Arnold Spies, we were talking about The Ticket, but nobody else will get that reference. So maybe I should cut that part out. When crossing the street or walking your dog, things can happen. That's always in the back of my mind with really anything, but when pertains to sporting, like at an event, yeah. It's not. So sometimes I find it difficult, especially like coming and going from a game, when a massive amount of people are moving. It's hard for me to navigate in a large storm of people; that would be true for any crowd. At a sporting event, when it's usually over, iit's usually the biggest crowd because everybody's leaving at the same time. Generally I will try to leave earlier or stay late, generally stay late so I can see what's going on unless the game is out of hand or something.

Kelly Walker:

I remember going out before you try to, yeah,

John:

It's just not fun. Just kind of pinballing in between a bunch of people. People bump into people all the time. That's not really a big deal but I seem to do it an extraordinary amount of times. Plus it's just mentally taxing for me to be so concerned about not doing that. It's just like I would rather wait kind of thing. That's one of the things you ave to be aware of if you're going to a sporting event with me. I would try to avoid being in the mass exodus or being in a big group of people. I can also remember pretty vividly one of the first sporting events I went to after my vision change. It appened in 1998; it was a Texas Rangers game during the summer of that year after I was home recuperating. My dad and I went to a Rangers game and really hadn't considered anything about being at a game. I was pretty excited to go because it was summer, and it was baseball. I like watching baseball and I can remember I didn't have my radio. That was one thing that I later learned would have made things better. It was more or less just going and getting out of the house and just being out there. We went to the game, but I really didn't. The radio would have helped with the enjoyment of the game. I was so concerned with getting hit by a foul ball that it ruined the game for me. I think if I remember correctly, I'd have to ask my dad. I think we moved once or twice because I just was so uncomfortable about the possibility of getting hit with a foul ball. The chance is very small, but it was the fact that I was adjusting to this new vision field that I had and what I could and couldn't see and what my limitations were and all that kind of stuff. I just had this irrational fear of being hit. It really was tough for me to sit there. It wasn't fun.

Kelly Walker:

I bet that goes back to you saying how much baseball you've watched and how much you enjoy it and get into it. I mean, watching a lot of baseball or listening to a lot of baseball growing up, yes, it doesn't happen to everybody every game, but of all those fans in there, somebody gets hurt every so often. You know, and remember seeing how fast a foul ball goes into the stands, right? If you're sitting in a spot where there's a lot of line drives going at you, you just know from watching so much baseball, that not being able to spot a ball coming at you that fast is dangerous. I could totally see how that would get in your head, and it would give me anxiety. If I knew that there could be a ball coming off a bat, and I can't be sure that I'm going to see it coming at me would make it really hard to sit and enjoy the game.

John:

Yeah. That was not a fun experience, but it also reminds me too, of my love for watching baseball too was within a year or two later. I'm back in Lubbock at Texas Tech University. We're watching baseball at the college level. We're watching games and me and about four or five of my knucklehead friends were fortunate enough to attend games. We had tickets to the baseball games, and the team was pretty good during those years. They were fun games to go to but I need to really be close to the action for the best chance for me to be able to see what's going on. Sitting up high while players are in the outfield, does not inable me to really see anything. Even sitting really more than 10 or 15 rows back, it's all the same to me. If I'm in a place where there's a box where I've got a TV or something near me, that makes it better. Sitting in a box, that's pretty rich. I don't know how many can afford to do that all the time. We got into this groove at Texas Tech baseball games where the row immediately behind the visiting on-deck circle was a row, with five seats. The first row up right behind the visiting on deck circle was open. I don't know; we probably went to 20 or 30 games, I would guess. People just thought those were our seats, and it was awesome for me. I could see the players because we were so close. They were great seats. You can see the field and hear the heckler. I learned about heckling at the college level. There were professional hecklers there. They were called the Tech hecklers, and they were good. They were really good. We were sitting pretty close to them, and got to know them a little bit. It was fun listening to all their shtick and all the stuff that they did. We were so close to the game that I could really see a lot, but I did have my radio ears in so I could hear it too. Because we were so close and right behind the batter, there was a net right in front of us. I couldreach out and touch the net. For me that was like the needed safety mechanism to keep me safe if I was going to get hit by a foul ball. If it was going to be a foul ball, it would have to go way up in the air. There would be 10 people around me all trying to get it. We'd all have plenty of time to adjust to it. Those were my best baseball games right there.

Kelly Walker:

The net makes all the difference in the world; that net is much needed every year. Major league baseball makes different rules and extends that net while watching minor league baseball here in town. It's now been extended so far. It's so great because I think it extends all the way to the far edge of each dugout, which is pretty far down the line. That's a lot of net, so it's a lot more space where you can enjoy the game without worrying about getting hit by a line drive. Like you said, if it comes up and over, that's one thing.

John:

And I don't think the net really interferes with vision. Obviously, the net's there, but you can see through it. The posts would probably be the biggest issues, but the posts are generally sprtead pretty far apart. Why don't we take it all the way down to the foul post? I tink they probably will.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. The different parks can do whatever they want, I guess. It's funny because every year when we get our seats, we like to be behind the net and just a little offset from home plate. That's my biggest thing for baseball - aving seats just behind the net. That's mostly for my little little kids, but we still get a lot of balls back there. It's just not as fast moving. You have a few seconds to react, see it coming and move if you want to move.

John:

Yeah. That type of foul ball is fun because people are going for it and having fun with it. But it's the screamer down the third baseline that you know could knock somebody's jawbone off is not the one you want.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Well, we, we started this talking about getting knocked in the head, and we finished this talking about getting knocked in the head.

John:

That's probably a pretty good way to end it.

Kelly Walker:

It's come full circle on our sports talk.

John:

I don't know if we covered all the sports, so maybe we'll do it again.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. I mean, anytime. I'm always up for chatting about sports. I actually have a lot of notes and research that we didn't get to that we can talk about another time. I want to talk about all these popular sports for people with vision impairments that I learned about but didn't know. So we can do that. Yeah.

John:

We'll do it the next time.

Kelly Walker:

Yep.

John:

Sounds good. Thanks Kelly.

Kelly Walker:

Thanks for having me, John.

Kelly Walker

Host, Hustle And Pro Podcast

A longtime sports fan, Kelly grew up playing everything from soccer to softball, gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and more. An avid Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys fan from Waco, Texas, she headed west to become a Red Raider. On the intramural soccer field at Texas Tech, she met her future husband, who she spends a lot of family time with at FC Dallas, Frisco Roughriders, youth soccer, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse games.

Kelly began writing local sports features and realized the interviews were too good to let sit in a digital file no one gets to hear. So, the podcast show was born to tell the stories of local athletes, coaches, teams, and fans.