"Don't take pictures!" The first words Kane ever said to me. (Actually a bit more explicit.) - Syosset, New York
In retrospect, I don't blame him. And for a (short) while, I was a bit worried I crossed the line. I remember thinking it was such a pivotal moment, that I instinctively searched him out. It was a couple of years ago in New York when Kane had to pull out during his final against Rocky. That loss ended his unbelievable streak. When I found him in a workout room with coach Winterton and Sudsy Monchik, as Pablo Fajre was helping him stretch out his back, I quietly stepped in and snapped one photo. Kane heard it right away and reacted. So, literally, I got just the one shot.
For the few years I've been taking racquetball images and writing, my interaction with players has been pretty deep. I typically enjoy conversations, a sense of camaraderie and some genuine friendships. But not with Kane, a player, of whom I probably have my most extensive collection of images. Don't get me wrong, he's cool and always says "What's up." Though Kane is rarely one to stick around for long. He's really good at interacting with fans who come up to him when he is, dominating his spare time around the courts. I realize he's often in his work mode, so there is rarely a chance for us to interact organically. He's working. I'm working. I stay clear mostly.
Last October, I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Minneapolis. It was Sunday night.. the last night of the U.S. Open. And late. I looked up from my computer to a waiter bringing me a glass of scotch. "Compliments of the gentleman at the bar." There was Kane, sitting with his friend Tyron. After acknowledging them, I closed up my laptop and joined them for a bit at the bar. I didn't want to interrupt, but I thought a personal thank you was appropriate.
I'm glad I made my way over. We actually got to talk. Away from the courts. He was winding down after having secured his 9th US Open title. Just having a drink with his boy. So for a little while, we actually got to talk. Real talk. I got some insight into what makes him tick. How he feels about what he's accomplished, really wants and got a glimpse of some of the frustrations that come with doing what he's doing, with little recognition relative to other professional sports figures. He became real to me and I made sure not overstay my welcome.
I mention this because there is a deep respect that goes beyond his unrivaled play on the racquetball court. I don't claim to know him, only that I know there is a unique personality there, in a very unusual situation. I can imagine what it's like for him. And, I can't.
Today, we posted an article, A Kane Is Able Philosophy. (Published in the older version of Restrung - no longer available.) Pro Kennex president Mike Martinez and I were talking after I posted The Back Door. I caught some flack for this post. But not from Mike. I was simply putting on the table something that happens (and, still by others,) all the time in the game. We were both of the understanding that we both understood where the other was coming from. And we continue on with our mutual, long lasting respect. This idea for an article came about as we continued our communications.
The article's primary focus is sparked with Kane Waselenchuk. Which in turn, sparked my personal thoughts of the guy.