Franco Valentin Common App Essay


Franco Valentin, Contributor, '21

“It’s like a f****** ballet out here! I love it! Oh, earmuffs kid. Sorry,” I heard as my dad covered my ears.

I remember it clear as day: my first f-bomb. I was barely nine years old, holding a fishing rod that was twice the size of me, on a boat that was much too small for the weather, hoping a fish quadruple my weight picks up my crab- a fish that would have easily pulled me over and into the deep blue.

It was also my first time fishing ever. My dad thought it would be a great idea to hire a captain to take us tarpon fishing in the world’s most popular tarpon fishing spot: Anna Maria Island. There might have been, no exaggeration, 150 boats within one football field of space. Captains yelling everywhere, motors revving, fish jumping, lines tangling. For a nine year old, it was an absolute nightmare. I liked my little bubble with my few neighborhood friends and my mommy and my daddy. I didn’t like this.

Our captain felt the exact opposite. He loved the chaos, loved the shouting, loved the fishing. I was scared, he was not. I was shaking, he was steady. Everything I felt, he felt the opposite. His demeanor inspired me. Even though this fish was fully capable of drowning me, he gave me confidence. I felt like I would’ve been able to pull the plug off the bottom of the ocean. I was ready to fight this fish. Captain Harrison King made me ready.

The fish never bit my line.

Fast forward five years. Same place. Same captain. Same water. Same situation, except this time, the fish bit my line.

In those five years, I grew two and a half feet. I gained almost sixty pounds. I had played in three basketball city championship games. I had my first girlfriend, and I became completely obsessed with tarpon fishing.

Tarpon are the ultimate trophy fish: glinting silver scales, gorgeous black eyes, massive bony jaw, the oceanic embodiment of raw power (seriously, look this fish up if you have never seen one. Seeing one in real life is truly shocking). . Tarpon jump completely out of the water, and shake their heads like someone just asked them if they wanted to be caught (they’re saying no very emphatically). This motion puts slack in your line, and the slack makes it very easy for the hook to pop out. There is a way to combat this: bowing. This is when you lower your rod and point it at the fish as it jumps, thus limiting slack and your chances at losing the fish. Each time I had fought a tarpon, my bow was too late, and the fish came off. I was not going to let it happen again.

After thirty minutes of running, yelling and untangling, I finally had the fish on its last legs. Thing is, I was also on my last legs. This tarpon was being very un-tarponlike. It hadn’t jumped once, but I was waiting. Then, all the sudden, the 150 pound, silver missile came flying out of the water. My dad and the captain were ogling at the beast that just erupted from the depths, but I had no time for that. I bowed. The leviathan went back under, and the hook stayed. I knew I had won.

I have failed many times in my life: bombed tests in AP Chemistry, missed game-tying shots on the basketball court, gotten rejected as peer-mentor, arranged for Spirit Week themes that completely flopped. I rarely succeed on my first try, but even if it takes five years and three heart-crushing defeats, I always succeed eventually.