The Aquatic Predator…Feed Yard Foodie Dive Bombs A Cow–Part 1

Here are Bill and I with our Coach shortly after we both completed an ocean mile race…

Bill Wiebking is one of Feed Yard Foodie’s most loyal readers.  Bill is the current Communications Director for Hargrave Military Academy and a long-time friend of mine. My junior and senior year in high school, Bill and I trained 4-5 hours a day together in a shared effort to compete and place at the national level in swimming. The practical jokes, teasing, and laughter that dominated our relationship enabled us to get through the intense training which brought both of us to a new level of athletic accomplishments.

Interestingly enough, when I left Bill and our beloved coach (Allan Andersen) to compete on the collegiate level, I was never able to replicate either the relationships or the swimming success that I saw when training with these two wonderful guys.  Both Bill and Allan played a pivotal role in shaping the person that I am today.  They taught me that hard work led to success, and that a few practical jokes and laughing moments made that hard work a joy to experience.  I take those lessons with me each day at the feed yard, where my crew and I can often be seen laughing and teasing each other while we push ourselves to tenaciously pursue our goal of outstanding animal care.

The following is a story that Bill wrote about an experience that we had together.  It has an interesting tie to the life that I have chosen in Nebraska! Bill is possibly even more verbose than I am so I have divided the story into two parts.  Part 1 is listed below and Part 2 will come up on Thursday.  Enjoy!

“Anne Dive Bombs a Cow”

By: Bill Wiebking

Many years prior to Nebraska, before Will Feed, Inc. and a few years prior to meeting Matt, Anne was a scrawny little girl who could be seen driving her Daddy’s big blue Suburban to and from swimming practice. She swam on a team where at least two members, the coach and myself, often held our faces skyward toward Palm Beach International (PBI) airport and its main runway, which was literally less than a half mile from our pool.

While I think we all shared a love for being outside in the hot sun and cool water, I don’t think she cared much for aviation. On rare occasions the Coach would stop or ignore practice so we could watch an unusual aircraft take-off, such as a giant U.S. Air Force C-5a Galaxy departure on PBI’s massive main runway. Or, watch the goings on when then President George H.W. Bush, Sr. flew into town on Air Force One visiting his mom.

Anne and several other female athletes on the team, (and there were many), would roll their eyes at our wierdness. I have one memory of Anne and a few others standing at the pool wall completely dejected since ‘we’ were holding up practice for something as meaningless as a plane taking off. And when I mean dejected, they were standing like women spurned. The water was steaming.

Anne, at the time, must have been a high school junior and was very focused on school and swimming. She was very hardcore in both academics and her athletics. She was also a stunningly tough competitor and, despite a large age and speed difference between us, an awesome training partner.

Anne was more than a little quirky, however. Often this crazy clinical scientist personality would kidnap the Anne we trained with every day. That side of her was awkward and often didn’t get a simple joke. While we were used to it and completely accepted her, it was strange that this top-flight academic would give us a blank stare. It was precisely that reason that she was far more one of us than not. It humanized this otherwise terrifying aquatic predator.

(She has since told me that she is not that person anymore, but to me that primal stuff never leaves the ID. And her girls compete successfully both on land and on water like their Mama, so guess what? It is still there, but it is regulated to a set of narrow eyes looking out from the dark places in a jungle.)

And so with that, it seemed strange to me that Anne accepted my offer to go flying. This was not a normal flight. We weren’t going cross country. The flight would take-off and land at a local airport, which was some distance from PBI.

The flight was for a ride in sailplane, a completely motor less and utterly quiet aircraft designed to ride thermals or heat rising off the land. Florida has plenty of heat, so it is a great place to fly a sailplane…

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