As published on TulsaWorld.com – Read on Tulsa World
At the time it was just an interesting detail. The story and context didn’t call for its use. But this week it came back into focus and I searched through archives to find the photo for print.
Back in July I saw the inspirational words written over the steering wheel column on Bixby angler Fred ‘Boom Boom’ Roumbanis’ boat and it caught my attention. I snapped a couple frames. He commented at the time that it was his inspiration this season – a source of confidence, written proof of what he knows but sometimes forgets.
But that day we were fishing the ponds at Bass Pro Shops with 19-year-old Christian Leithner a young Tulsa fisherman and cancer fighter who clearly enjoyed spending the day with his new professional bass fishing buddy. Boom Boom’s inspiration wasn’t the story – then.
Roumbanis and Leithner were having a great day fighting cancer – with fun, an escape to the great outdoors. Roumbanis said at the time his father was fighting cancer as well and we spoke of the extent the disease touches so many lives. Turn Tulsa Pink, an outfit that specializes in using good vibes to help people fight cancer, arranged the day.
The emotion that comes with that tough fight was just under the surface. It was most obvious when it came to the video interview portion of the day. I try not to do a “Barbara Walters” on people but it would have been easy for any of us to get misty-eyed that day – fun as it was.
Today I’m told Christian is undergoing surgery, fighting cancer with medicine and science. Julie Rombanis, Fred’s wife, said Christian went fishing Wednesday because “it will be awhile before he can go again.”
Christian is the subject of many prayers today. He is a strong young man.
Boom Boom’s inspiration and what fishing and the outdoors can mean to a person comes into sharper focus on a day like this.
On Sunday Roumbanis posted on his Facebook page what a great day it was as he had qualified for two major championships and, to boot, his father, Kelly, was declared cancer-free.
Roumbanis has had a pretty good season. He took the long road and fished the Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW Tour and the PAA tournaments. That’s a lot of short nights, long days and time on the road.
A top-ten finish at Table Rock last week meant he finished seventh overall in the PAA Series and qualified to fish the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, set for Conroe Oct. 4-6. That news and the news about his father came on the heels of learning he also qualified to fish the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala. in February.
Wednesday I saw the video post Fred Roumbanis put on his Facebook page after he wrapped up at Table Rock. At that moment Boom Boom didn’t talk about techniques or what baits he used where. Instead he talked about his words of inspiration.
The words on his boat read: “I fish to win. Winning is surviving. Trust your instincts. You know!!”
People often say they get outdoors to clear their mind and let the stress of life fade away, to reboot, to relax.
Competition heightens what it is we experience daily. Maybe what Roumbanis put into words, what worked for him on the water, is what we all search for out there sometimes; a chance to reconnect with what matters most, what we know about ourselves and that knowledge that we have the strength within to survive and to succeed – whether we’re fighting a fish, winning a contest, making a deadline, completing a project or beating cancer.
Here is the Table Rock wrap-up video and the one from July with Christian Leithner.