June of 1985, I had just finished my sophomore year at the University of Maine. It was a frustrating year for our baseball program, we got beat in the regionals and didn’t make it back to the college world series. The string of four consecutive trips to Omaha had ended. Most of the University of Maine players were headed back to their home states to play summer ball. Us, Maine guys, went to Southern Maine to play in the Portland Twilight League. I had played for the Auburn Aces the year before and I was excited to get back. Our team was comprised of college players, former college players and local athletes that loved playing the game. The League was super competitive and very fun, but one of the prerequisites to playing was to get a job.
My freshman year I did odd jobs to get by, painting, lawn mowing, and I did some landscaping as well. The summer of 85’ I got a job working for the Auburn Housing Authority. Although I did much of the same, painting and lawn mowing, the job was more stable with consistent working hours. They knew I played baseball and were flexible with the summer schedule, a perfect summer job for a ball player. The job became a life changer.
After a few weeks of playing and working, my new boss, Al Bartley, explained what we were going to be doing that day. He said to me, in his Yogi Bear voice, “Hey Rhino, I want you to start by weed whacking around the property." I of course, asked why he called me Rhino. He explained that Rhinos charge after what they want. They have goals and work hard to achieve those goals. He said that he sees that rhino spirit in me. I thought that was cool and appreciated his compliment and went on with my day. He continued to call me rhino, day in and day out. One day he brought me two cassette tapes. He suggested I listen to them and that I’d get a better understanding of his rhino reference.
The voice on the tapes used the rhino as a symbol of a courageous mindset, that can be used to achieve success. Charging after everything you do, with focus, persistence and singularity of purpose. Having thick rhino skin to fend off the critics and non-believers. Chasing goals down with audacity and a positive attitude. I was all in and could feel myself becoming filled with the rhino spirit. It didn’t take long before I purchased a rhino poster, I started collecting rhinos and became a full time believer in the rhino way. I still do today and want to pass this spirit on to all who want to strive for success and action.