Hucking Aces was lucky enough to get an interview with one of Disc Golf’s biggest stars and greatest ambassadors. We asked him for his thoughts on the current state of disc golf, as well as the future of our sport.
1) With players getting sponsorships from many different sources at once now, when will pros start using business managers or agents to help establish more opportunity for themselves for larger endorsements/sponsorships? Do you think we’re close to that point as a sport, or is it still far off on the horizon?
It’s very exciting to see the variety of player sponsorships coming from many sources outside the typical Disc Golf companies within the sport. But it’s very much needed if we plan on breaking the mold and striving to accomplish more, I’m in total support of it as it’s proving that we are a viable athletic activity worthy of such recognition.
It’s only natural that these players will soon need some sort of management or agency to help assist in the planning, organization and scheduling. We are not far off from seeing this happen in the next few years as our sport only continues to grow and the need for such product exposure will be compensated. I myself have been my own sports agent in so many ways for the past decade or so but it’s helped me gain some very valuable business experience and critical contacts for years to come.
2) “Visibility” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in terms to growing disc golf. Besides televised events, like the ones in Europe, what do you think is the best way to increase awareness of the game to the masses? I think that your Discmania Deep in the Game tour was a great step in this direction, but do think that there are steps that other players, especially the average player instead of just superstars, can take to grow awareness? What about manufacturers?
As the sport continues to growth with the expansion of new courses and new players picking up discs everyday, the visibility of Disc Golf needs to produce some positive exposure to all that witness. Obviously, television coverage is the ultimate goal right now, Innova Europe being the reason for such mammoth steps toward the world-wide growth of Disc Golf bringing in close to 500,000 viewers at the most recent European Open and European Masters Major Events. Now that’s measurable data that can be shown to prospective sponsors in order to gain more massive public awareness.
Our Discmania Deep in the Game Disc Golf Instructional Tour throughout the US & Europe last season was monumental in doing something that was very different but obviously very demanded as well. It definitely got some great publicity and positive exposure but only within the Disc Golf Community. I was very happy with what we were able to accomplish as it’s setting the stage for many various Discmania Clinical Tours to follow.
I would encourage all of the players out there that possess the passion for growing the sport to spread the love and grow the sport, these are the ones that have the greatest chance to do something special in making Disc Golf better by teaching a friend or family member the game. The more people that know about Disc Golf and play on a regular basis is obviously going to slowly increase the overall awareness.
But most importantly, once you’re a regular player I would recommend getting involved in a local club or organization of players that helps to maintain courses, running local charity events and helping to better the perception of our sport. This is crucial in not only enhancing our image to the masses but showing that Disc Golf is a positive asset to the local community.
3) Do you think that the PDGA needs to restructure or reshuffle a bit in terms of what constitutes a “pro?” Has the term become too diluted? We already see that major events are changing registration practices to ensure that the best players have the ability to play, do you think we need a new level of “Professional” across the sport?
The term Professional in the Professional Disc Golf Association has always been questioned as it comes from a time in Frisbee History when there was only the “Pro” Division available. I strongly believe in a restructuring of the levels of players allowed to qualify, register and compete at the Professional Level at the top level events. As tournaments are filling up quicker than ever before, I’ve heard of some events selling out in less than a minute, it’s getting to the point of ridiculousness.
Trust me, it’s a great problem to have as it’s truly showing our incredible growth at the moment but it’s also getting to the point were some players are playing in a higher division that they are not qualified for just to play the event. In turn, many times the amateur side of the tournament fills the fastest due to the over abundance with many amateur players that missed out on the initial registration deadline scrabbling to take pro spots leaving many professionals out of the event once it’s sold out.
First, we need to place a certain rating on who can actually say that they are a Disc Golf Professional, let’s say it’s a minimum of a 980 rating to be considered a Pro. Next, all of the Upper-tier events need to follow a simple, systematic ratings-based registration that allows the higher rated players first opportunity to register for the tournament. This would allow players with ratings 1000+ the first 2-weeks to register in phase 1, then players with ratings 990+ the next 2-weeks to register in phase 2 and so on. This would allow the best players the opportunity to play the best events, it’s what everyone wants to see as it has the greatest possibility to truly build the Disc Golf spectators and fans.
4) Do you think disc golf still has a public image issue?
Honestly, I personally think that Disc Golf still has mixed public image and it’s becoming less of a blame on a certain stereotype. It’s a view that is based on a new image of the individuals that participate in this sport at a very recreational level and how they are viewed by the masses that watch them play in their public parks on a daily basis. It’s probably something that all sports deal with or have dealt with at some time as it might be part of the growing pains.
In my mind the image is jaded because I surround myself with players that are very passionate about the sport and I envision a certain level of professionalism throughout. I also witness the thousands of other players out there that could really care less as they are going to continue to play regardless how they act or dress on the course. I’m done with referring to the predecessors that helped mold this great sport with the creation of the frisbee as something that holds us back, we are the ones now that need to create our own professional image for the sport.
The public image of Disc Golf in the US is very different than the public image of Disc Golf in Europe. In Europe, it’s embraced as a professional sport played by respectful athletes and sportsman, that conduct themselves in a professional manner and really appreciate the competition of the sport itself. There are dozens of new courses being installed and thousands of new players every year. They respect the courses that they play on and they create a very positive image for the sport to the local communities. They are most certainly leading by example as we continue to move forward.
5) What changes and modifications do you look for when making your signature discs? For example, what characteristics does an Avery Jenkins Tour Teebird have compared to a standard TB? Was it your idea to make so many of them swirly, or was that a factory decision?
Well, first off I’m not the one actually designing or modifying the discs during the production process but I give my requests of certain characteristics that I’m looking for in a disc that I love to throw. When I was asked what I wanted in my AJ Tour Series Star Teebird, I requested a stiff, marbled plastic that offered great grip with a predicable overstable flight. And through a few test runs, Dave Dunipace at Innova was able to create the exact disc that I was looking for!
The standard production run of Star Teebirds are typically a little softer and offer a straighter stable flight but that’s exactly what drew me to Teebirds in the beginning as the Best Fairway Driver in the game. As for my Signature Model, I wanted those to be a slightly different offering with more overstability to be able to handle more power and torque. The Swirly, Marbled plastic was a personal request as something that I’ve always preferred especially in the Star Destroyers that I throw, so I thought it was an excellent idea to use similar plastic in the AJ Star Teebirds as well.
Thanks to all of the players that enjoy throwing these Tour Series Teebirds and I really appreciate the support, please be on the look out for a new run and hotstamp to release later this Spring 2015.
6) Congratulations on the birth of your son! Now that your a father, do you see your touring changing this year? Will you tour a bit less, or is your son motivating you to get out there and continue to excel?
The most recent birth of my son, Arian Jenkins, will definitely change things up quite a bit this year as my priorities have obviously shifted to the family life. I still plan on playing a good amount of tournaments this season but making many more trips back to see him throughout the week. In years past when I would travel to events, I would play those tournaments and stay on the tours for months. Now with the Baby Boy in my life, I’ll be making frequent trips back and forth throughout the season even though I will have the opportunity to bring him out for a few short mini tours this year.
I realize that I can’t tour forever as I’m the last of the original Disc Golf Road Warriors but with life’s responsibilities along with looking for a change of direction within the sport will have me making some critical decisions sooner or later. Trust me, I absolutely love traveling and playing Disc Golf for a living as I’ve done for the past 16-seasons but with my experience that I’ve gained along the way I’m really looking forward to diverting my focus to helping to progress the sport much further.
7) What were your favorite and least favorite moments of your Deep in the Game Tour? Will there be another, and if so what can we expect from this upcoming tour?
The 2014 Discmania Deep in the Game Tour was definitely one for the ages as we got the opportunity to host 58 instructional clinics and workshops throughout the US and Europe this year. It’s something that we as players do that is very unique, not only did we teach like other professionals, but we taught Disc Golf on such a enormous scale on a weekly basis in over 100 cities, 44 US states and in 8 countries. It was the first Disc Golf Instructional Tour of its kind of this size and magnitude with over 900 participants in attendance throughout the year!
The absolute least favorite part is the cease of the tour at the end of the season, as I wish that the year could have continued for another few months at the very least. Myself knowing that with the arrival of my child that Disc Golf Touring would never be the same as I’ve known it to be over the past 15-years. It was an absolute blast the entire time as for me it was reliving the Disc Golf Tour that I knew so well, but this time it was all about providing the guidance for the young 22-year old German Phenom, Simon Lizotte, as it was his first time traveling as a Professional Touring Disc Golfer. It was a continuous adventure traveling, playing and teaching but most importantly having a lot of fun doing what we love to do!
So with my responsibilities of fatherhood, Simon will be taking to the road again on the Flying Circus Tour along with Tour Manager and SpinTV Director, Jamie Thomas. They are going to take the instructional tour where we left off last season meanwhile putting a new twist on it by offering some highly sought after Distance Clinics with the World Record Distance Champion. Every player that I know is always asking how they can add more distance to their game, now Simon will be showing them just that and bringing an action-packed entertaining learning experience.
For more information of the Discmania Flying Circus Tour go to: 2015 Flying Circus presented by Discmania
8) Finally, you have a similar throwing style to Captain America. If you had his shield and he had an AJ destroyer, who would win a fight?
I’ve been waiting for this exact question for some time now and I’m really surprised that I haven’t been asked before…but there’s not a doubt in my mind that I could literally “Destroy” Captain American in a fight. That Captain America shield is nothing less than a speed 18 and there’s no stopping that weapon on a 360-turnaround blaster to the chest…Game Over!
Here’s the Complete Hucking Aces Player Interview at HuckingAces.com: Avery Jenkins – Hucking Aces Player Interview