Wright Out of the Gate: First and Second Impressions
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet my new team for the first time. I travelled to Gopher Dunes for a 2-day photo shoot. I was excited. But, I have to admit I was also a little nervous. In fact, it felt a lot like going to a job interview or on a first date. You liked the jobperson well enough to accept the invitation but you’re not sure how well you’ re going to fit in, and you definitely want to make a good impression. In your mind, you imagine how things are going to play out and hope that you will live up to the expectations, and in truth, that they will live up to yours.
I mean, it’s not like everyone I was going to meet there were total strangers to me. I had met Derek Schuster and Colton Facciotti before but I didn’t really know them. There’s a big difference between saying hello and exchanging a few words with someone at the track or on the phone and spending two full days with them. Add the fact that I was going to be staying in the Schuster household with their family for a couple of days, and that I had not ridden a Honda since a CR0 at the age of yep my first dirt bike was a Honda, and you can perhaps begin to understand why I might be a little unsure about what to expect.
So, as I said, while I was at Gopher Dunes, I stayed with the Schusters. (Thank you so much to Derek and Kerri for opening up their home to me!) I had certainly gotten a very good impression of “Digger” during our contract negotiations, but wasn’t sure if the positive presigning experience was an accurate reflection of what the vibe would be when the work began. Would he continue to be the warm, engaging and encouraging person I had, until this point, been interacting with over the phone? Would it be the same when I met him in person? Not just that, but what about the complete atmosphere of the team?
While I had heard a number of things about the team from a number of different people, I have learned not to rely on hearsay and to form my own opinion. As it turns out, that sense of family and passion for the sport that I came to appreciate and value so much with the MX101 Yamaha FXR team could also be found with the Honda Canada GDR Fox Racing Team. It didn’t take long for the butterflies to disappear. When I finally arrived and met the whole crew; everyone seemed super nice and super chill.
Perhaps it’s because there were some familiar faces that I had had the pleasure of working with before. Among them was James Lissimore. What an amazing photographer and all-round good guy. There are at least two things you can count on with him:
a) A photo shoot is going to make for a very long day and, despite what you might think, a lot of hard work.
b) James is going to capture some amazing photos, whether it be staged images or candid shots. He just has a knack for capturing a moment or the essence of something in photos.
Then there was Jay Moore from FOX Canada. It was like a reunion for the two us! He is originally from the Ottawa region. We met many years ago, at Sand Del Lee, where he used to ride before he joined the marketing team at Fox Head Canada. He is not only a great sponsor but I also consider him to be a great friend. Having him there gave me an anchor and helped lighten the mood. The fact that he brought some sweet new 2017 gear for me to wear was definitely a perk too.
As for Colton, I was pleasantly surprised with his easy manner, the helpful tips he volunteered for bike setup and, most of all, his sense of humour. He really is a very funny guy. Add to the mix his 2-year-old lad Keagan and you often had the perfect recipe for a few good laughs.
There is just something about having toddlers around that really sets the tone for the day and creates a unique dynamic. It just seems to bring out everyone’s inner child. When they’re around, you inevitably get to see the more personal side of the people you work with. Being a twin myself, I must admit that it was fascinating to see the 1-year-old Schuster twins in action. It gave me a whole new appreciation for what it must have been like for my parents when my brother and I were that age.
Speaking of my twin brother Ryan, he is a huge Drew Bezanson fan, so when I finally got to meet Drew, his reputation preceded him. My brother and I have viewed quite a few videos of him on his BMX bike. Little did I know that the guy could also ride motocross. He certainly added a lot of energy and fun to the photo shoot. I am going to take him up on his offer to join him on his turf on a BMX bike one of these days. I am really looking forward to it, because like any sport it is awesome to see a world class athlete in action.
Then there was Austin Watling, a young Intermediate rider who plans to turn Pro in the future. If I was feeling a little anxious and excited about the whole weekend thing, I can only imagine how he felt. It was weird to think that he was me only 3 or 4 years ago. The memory of wanting to hang out with the Pros but being very hesitant about doing it is still pretty fresh in my mind. (Austin: I hope we treated you OK and you had a good time!) Having him there also reminded me of my last year as an Intermediate, a year I remember very fondly. I also remember the rush I felt when a pro team acknowledged my skills and offered me support. Like I said in my last blog, it’s the chances that we get and take that allow many of us to reach that next level. Good luck to you this year buddy!
Last but not least, I got to meet Justin, the team’s mechanic. He tried to get to know me as a rider as I tried to get to know my new CRF250R. After riding Yamahas for many years, I have to admit that it did feel different, for sure! What I noticed most was how much more slender the body of the Honda is. For a guy with my build, it definitely made it easier for me to hug the bike with my legs and, therefore, to handle the bike on the track. Needless to say that there is much testing and tweaking to take place in the weeks and months leading up to the Canadian Pro Nationals. But as far as first impressions go the Honda gets a big two thumbs-up from me.
So how would I describe the weekend overall? Well people were relaxed, yet focused. It was informal, yet very professional. We worked hard and we played hard. There was much to be accomplished in two days. There was an effort to make sure that the technical things got done, but that people got to know one another and have fun too.
While they say that you “never get a second chance to make a first impression,” I would also say that you shouldn’t form your opinion based only on your first impression. There is often more to people than meets the eye.