FishDuck.com has a distinct ability to connect with the casual fan. I say ‘casual’ because for most fans, the roaring spirit of Duck sports can be an escape from the harsh realities of life.
Not so for Mike Merrell, however, who is an editor and writer for FishDuck.com.
See, Mike doesn’t view Duck sports as just a hobby, he also sees it as a way to improve his writing, editing and mentoring skills. Don’t get me wrong, he has as much fun as the fan next door, but his approach to the things he loves is different from the casual fan. This is what makes him the ideal novelist, writer and mentor.
In his college days, Mike was one of the fastest swimmers to ever grace the pool at the University of Oregon. He set records, competed against Olympic athletes, and more recently, as a masters swimmer, has been ranked among the top 10 swimmers in the world (and as high as second in the U.S.) for his age group.
In his late twenties, he took it upon himself to run a few marathons and nearly qualified for the Olympic Trials, posting a few 2:23 efforts with no coaching other than what he provided himself.
He attended the Honors College at the University of Oregon and passed the CPA exam with the highest scores in the state. He enjoys cooking, running, reading, writing, landscaping and building furniture. Needless to say, when Mike approaches an activity, he’s thinking is of all the things that he can do to become the best at what he does.
This is why he edits and writes for FishDuck.com: it’s because he’s a near-perfectionist. He confronts his challenges one step at a time and doesn’t mind helping you tackle yours. Much like Arik Armstead of the Duck football team, Mike hits his challenges, and he hits them hard.
Care to see the insight he brings to the table? I spoke with him on the phone about his experiences as a Duck fan.
What is your favorite sport to watch?
“Track and Field. I really enjoy the purity of the athletic competition. It’s just straight-forward athletic competition, darned good athletic competition. The sportsmanship in track and field, as is the case with swimming, can be so different from what passes as sportsmanship in some of the other sports. One of the greatest races I ever saw was Steve Prefontaine and Frank Shorter duking it out in the 5K at Hayward. It came down to who wanted it more, and we all know who that was!”
Out of your many hobbies, what is your favorite one?
“I’m all over the board. I love to cook, I like to work in the woods. We have 28 acres of forest so we’re always out there working on our trails, cleaning up some trees, making firewood. I use some of the wood to make furniture. I’ve made about 30 pieces of furniture in our house. I like masonry, and have done some rock work and fairly elaborate landscaping. Then of course there’s running, swimming and writing.”
So, you write novels?
“I’ve written three novels. One is on Amazon Kindle and two more are waiting in the wings. I’m trying to figure out what to do with them. I’d really like to get an agent, but everybody and their brother and their great aunt want an agent, so who knows?”
What are they about?
“They’re all about Abby Westminster — who happens to be the illegitimate daughter of Britain’s greatest secret agent ever — and how she saves the world from super villains.”
You were quite the swimmer in college, care to talk about that?
I did okay for coming out of a summer-only program in Idaho. I was good enough to compete against Olympic athletes. I even beat an Olympic gold medal winner once, although it was in foosball, so I’m not sure it really counts for much.
I broke two records while I was at Oregon. I got the freshman record for the 1650-yard free. That record lasted three hours. The other time, I broke the varsity record for the 200-yard breast. That record lasted one heat. That was in the prelims of the Pac-8 Championships. My teammate broke my record in the next heat. In the finals, he ended up 3rd and I ended up 5th.
By the time I graduated I had the 3rd-fastest 200 breast in school history, but I was also only 3rd fastest on the team, so there was certainly no temptation to get a big head about it.
Who is your favorite Oregon football player?
“I never really had any favorites to speak of, but I guess I’d have to say Dan Fouts. My first year out of college, Oregon was playing UCLA in the Coliseum. Oregon was down 40-21 with 4-and-a-half minutes left. Fouts brought them back for the win. I was actually there; it was just unreal. People were leaving in droves to beat the traffic, and they had to be in for a little bit of a nasty surprise to find that UCLA ended up losing.”
What do you think of the Oregon Duck football jerseys?
“I like them! I think they’re great. It’s great the recognition that the Ducks have gotten from them.”
What is your favorite Oregon Duck sport to write about?
“Probably football. It’s the most dramatic, there’s more drama in it than any other sport.”
What is your most recent article and why should someone read it?
“I wrote one about player safety. It puts a different perspective on what some of the issues are (in regards to targeting).
For instance, I suggest that they should have instant replay reviews on non-calls as well as the calls. I don’t like things that are unfair and when everybody across the 7 continents watches a player get nailed with a helmet and the referees don’t happen to see it, they can’t call it because it can’t be reviewed. If they’re (NCAA) really concerned about player safety, why not review it and call it?”
What advice do you have for students getting ready to graduate from the UO?
“Writing skills. It’s amazing how many people leave college without being able to put together good sentences. Especially with the texting generation going on, people have become really sloppy in their writing. It’s really important, when you get in the real world, how you present yourself. A lot of the time, the first thing people see is something you’ve written.”
Why do you write for FishDuck?
“I enjoy writing, I enjoy editing. I think the thing I enjoy the most is helping people with their writing. It’s the most rewarding part.”
You can find Mike Merrell’s work on his website at merrellbooks.com. For any inspired writers wishing to work with people such as Mike Merrell: Join us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and get more information! It could change the way you view Oregon sports forever — like it did for me, and Mr. Mike Merrell.