Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Competing With Mother Nature




As of the date of my deadline to submit this column, the path of Hurricane Irma was still somewhat undetermined, and by the time this column posts (and you are reading it) our area, or some location, will have dealt with an impact from this storm.

My columns are normally about strategies and game plans for competing in tennis and pickleball, but with all that Mother Nature has been throwing at us lately, I felt I needed to voice my feelings on how to compete against and conquer the confrontations that have been recently challenging the citizens of our great nation.

As a native born, fifth generation Texan, I grew up in the city of Houston. I spent summers at our beach house in Rockport, Texas (aka ground zero for landfall of Hurricane Harvey), and when my time comes, I will be laid to rest with my ancestors in Victoria, Texas.



I have been through four major hurricanes in my life, (maybe five, by the time you read this article), beginning when I was just 4 years old, as Hurricane Carla struck the south Texas coast in 1961.

Carla made landfall near Matagorda Bay, as a Category 5 hurricane, and as with Harvey, even though the actual landfall location was some 100 miles from Houston, the damage and devastation caused by the storm was spread across the entire Texas coastline.

Because of my young age, I have only basic, limited memories of Hurricane Carla.

Back in those days, technology did not provide the coverage and documentation of such an event, that we are able to witness in today’s world.

As with any catastrophic natural disaster, while it was very difficult for me to watch the flooding and devastation which Harvey ravaged on the entire Texas/Louisiana coast and beyond, it was especially difficult for me to watch my hometown of Houston be totally flooded. I was witnessing scenes of rescues from areas of Houston where I once lived.

The people in Houston have experienced the loss of their homes and of all their personal, worldly possessions. They have been tremendously challenged, but they have not given up. They are fighting back! They have immediately begun to rebuild their homes and their lives.


For most of us, when we are involved in any form competition, we don’t like to lose. However, we must realize that whatever form of competition we may be participating in, we are fighting many separate individual battles in a total war against our opponent; and as we compete, and as we are challenged by this opponent (who also wants to win), that we will experience a certain amount of failures and losses.

Whether it’s competing in sports, or facing a devastating personal challenge in life, the war is made up of several different, separate, individual, minor and major battles.

Don’t give up because you may have lost a battle, continue to fight, to win the war!

If you were here for Andrew or Wilma, or maybe you have experienced a hurricane like Sandy on the upper East Coast, then you know and understand the fear and anxiety that goes along with preparing for, going through and surviving a hurricane.

We have been blessed (and lucky), here in Naples and Marco, that we have never had to deal with storm like Carla, Harvey or Sandy, and hopefully, we will never encounter such a storm; but Mother Nature can be very unpredictable. Hurricanes are a fact of life, and they are something we must always respect and be aware of.

We have been in a down cycle of hurricane activity for the last decade, since Wilma struck our island. If you look at the historical cycle of hurricane activity (as it has been traced over the last 150 years), you will see a pattern of decades in which hurricane activity is stronger or weaker.

Hurricanes have been around for thousands of years and hurricane season is going to continue to be a threatening and challenging opponent for all of us to have to compete against.

If you are new to the area and have never been through a major hurricane before, don’t take hurricane season lightly! Be prepared.

Have a plan. Have a backup plan. Be prepared and have a plan for if you need to evacuate; and be prepared and have a plan, if you decide on staying and riding out the storm.

Just as competing in sports, when we are competing against the challenges of daily life we must remain strong in our defensive game plan, and be ready to fight back offensively when we have been knocked down by our opponent.

From a tennis viewpoint, being challenged by an event such as Hurricane Harvey, is like playing a long five set match; and while Mother Nature may be up two sets to love, and we feel like we are down a break in the third, it’s comeback time!

Like the people of Texas, we all need to have the spirit, drive and attitude to turn things around and win this one, in the fifth!

Even though there was nothing they could do to prevent the onslaught of devastation that occurred from Hurricane Harvey, these people have already shown great strength and unity, working as one giant team, coming right back and not giving up after being knocked down HARD!

The great Vince Lombardi was quoted as saying, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get up.”

As an American, I am proud of how the people of Texas have responded and are fighting back as a team, against the competitive challenges from their opponent, Mother Nature. It’s the type of fighting spirit that makes our country so great!

So I am asking all of my readers to be a team player and support your team.

Even if you don’t personally know someone who has been effected by a tragic event like a hurricane. Be a good Samaritan, be a good citizen, be a good American! Give money, give food, give blood, give your time as a volunteer. Give whatever you can, to help and support your fellow citizens, who have encountered a challenge from Mother Nature.

Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis/Sports Juniors programs run year round, and offer classes for players ranging from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at coachwayneclark@aol.com or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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