The Story of the Dart Throwing Champion - Part 1 of 2
The Story of the Dart Champion
(and the trophy that got burned to the ground)
Part 1: This is the story of Ned Kremlin. He is a master dartsman, and he has quite a few medals and trophies to prove it. In fact, in 1997 Ned was crowned the Champion of the World of Darts. And there on the mantle of Ned’s home sat that beloved trophy. That is, until one day that trophy was burned to the ground.
Ned of course loved darts. You don’t make it to the top of the heap in the world of darts without having a deep, serious love. He was a great dart thrower as a kid, he became amazing at darts in college, and in three short years after college he had already placed 3rd in the world finals of darts in Kalamazoo, MI. See, 25 years old in the dart world is the equivalent of just learning how to walk. But Ned was a young-gun for sure, and he was poised for greatness. The medals and trophies just kept piling up, and now Ned keeps one whole room in his house where he proudly displays his victories.
Ned’s passion for darts burns like a fire. Ned would always joke “When darts fly, I don’t care who dies”, meaning of course that everything was secondary to his darts. And everyone knew this about Ned, and Ned knew this about Ned. Darts were Ned’s sun and everything revolved around darts: Tuesday was guys dart night, Wednesdays was dart league and Friday through Sunday was for official dart tournaments. Darts were such a part of Ned’s life and identity, he even bought an RV so he could travel to as many tourneys as possible around the state and even around the country. On the back of the RV it simply said “Ned’s Dart Machine”. Many weeks Ned would leave first thing Thursday mornings (since dart league was Wednesday, he couldn’t and wouldn’t miss that) drive 2-8 hours - sometimes even up to 20 hours away to play in a dart tournament that would start on Friday and run until Sunday. Now Ned would be flexible and occasionally he would miss some or all of Tuesday’s night guys darts. For instance, there was this time (this one time only, actually) where Ned’s daughter had a burst appendix and she had to be rushed to the hospital from her preschool - Ned was there for her, at her bedside, when she woke up from her surgery…Ned got to visit and sit with her for at least 15 minutes while the docs and nurses checked up on her before she fell back to sleep. And wouldn’t you know it Ned showed up in time to save his guy’s night team from what would have been their first loss in 5 years. Ned can hurl a dart straighter than a nail, and while his daughter slept in a hospital bed, Ned laced the board with three straight bullseyes to win the game and keep his league win streak alive. Dartster, a magazine that is considered the Bible of the dart world, covered this story of Ned’s three straight bullseyes and how he kept the streak alive while his daughter was sick at the hospital. Dartster awarded Ned the first and the only Golden Dart Award for his dedication to the sport.
The pinnacle for Ned was of course the 1997 World Dart League Championship in Watertown, NY.
Part 2: The pinnacle for Ned was of course the 1997 World Dart League Championship in Watertown, NY. All the greats in the world of darts were there, and one by one Ned knocked out each and every one of his much older and much more experienced competitors. In fact, as a show of absolute confidence and strength under fire, having never even once yet won the World Dart Championships, Ned was so confident that he threw the Championship game using the wood darts his grandfather carved for him when he was only 7 years old. Darts have gone through a couple of major revolutions in the sport, going first from wood, to plastic in the 1980s, to now the machine cut, weighted and precision measured carbon and/or aluminum crafted darts of today. Everyone now throws a carbon dart because they are as perfect as perfect can be, weighed to whatever suits your dart throwing style. Ned, however, proved how unbeatable he really was by bringing out the wood darts for the Championship. Ned’s initials and a lightning bolt were burnt into all three darts (with three spares in case the worst of the worst happened and one or two or even all three would break). Those wooden darts and Ned’s notoriety flew through the air as magically as ever that day in Watertown, NY. Everyone cheered and no one doubted this young man’s dart greatness as that last dart landed in victory. Ned was crowned champion of the world at only 26 years of age. Ned cupped and held the trophy all the way home until he could show his family what they already knew: Ned Kremlin is a dart throwing champion.
The town that Ned grew up in gave him a key to the city…who could have ever imagined that a little kid from West Point, Ohio, population 598 people, could become something so great? A parade was given for Ned, and he and his whole family celebrated. People said they don’t think they saw Ned put that winning trophy down once for a full week after he won it. With some pulling and prying, Linda got the trophy out of Ned’s hands. Ned agreed, on one condition.
Part 3: And there, in the middle of the living room and above the fire place was the mantel where Ned’s trophy was proudly perched. Before on the mantel there was an assortment of pictures of the family, to include MeMaw’s ashes and the picture of MeMaw on her beloved Rascal scooter (which she inexplicably drove for the last 28 years of her life even though she could walk just fine). Ned kept all the pictures and the urn that held MeMaw’s ashes up on the mantel, but they all got shoved off to the side once he won his first world championship trophy. The pictures and urn were now bunched to each side, giving Ned’s 1997 World Dart Championship trophy lots of room to shine as the centerpiece.
There that trophy sat as the family centerpiece year after year. Ned always kept it polished and dust free, even though he barely had time to cut the grass at home, let alone spend time with his family. He even let dust settle on his own mom’s picture and urn. Memaw’s scooter was her pride and joy. In the picture you could see she had her “MeMaw” name plate on the scooter, along with a tiny set of pink fuzzy dice that hung to the side like it was her car, and other bumper stickers that showed just how much she loved her Rascal scooter. These were once valuable memories for Ned. But the dust on her picture and urn, and the other family pictures as well, compared to his trophy, said all anyone needed to know about Ned’s love of darts compared to everything else.
Needless to say, Ned’s pursuit for more trophy’s and more success in darts had started to wear on the family – most notably on Ned’s wife, Linda. Way back when, Linda tried to put a brave face on the Golden Dart Award Ned had won…she never got the feeling washed out of her mouth how Ned was somehow awarded for hardly being there while his own daughter sat sick in the hospital. Instead, his Golden Dart Award and the framed article from the Dartster magazine now enshrines Ned’s moment as a great moment in his trophy room. First steps, first words, playing catch with the kids and so many more things were missed by Ned in pursuit of the almighty dart and the trophies and wins that followed. Nudges, and softly reminding Ned that his ‘family matters too’ didn’t work. Linda tried to be understanding and bit her teeth through all of it. Linda really just wanted a little bit of Ned and his time for his family, knowing darts was and always will be his passion. Ned only knew darts and he didn’t get the hint….or the hints.
Then one day the trophy was gone.