It's Only Fitting to Let You In

David Espinoza PIcture My passion is writing about success stories – mostly sports. There are so many amazing stories here in the great northwest. I will soon be releasing my third book. It’s being published as we speak – I’ll keep you posted on that so stay tuned.

Since I’m the author, it’s only fitting to let you in on how I was inspired to become a great athlete. It all began back in Texas in the seventh grade in 1973. We moved to Oregon in 1976 – love Oregon! At five years old I was in a severe accident that kept me in the hospital for months. I started school late but fought to learn as much as I could. My older brother, Gilberto, was the oldest of six kids in our family. He was a running back – a big strong guy. There was something about watching all of his practices. The teamwork during practices and during real games looked fun and challenging. During basketball season he practiced hard every day. Then track and field season came around and I would watch him practice the high jump.

I wanted to be good enough to be one of the players that made a difference. In football I became a very good kicker and punter – practicing everyday with my younger brother. We would kick the football back and forth on the dirt road next to our house. We did that every day until eventually the football was flying with a nice spiral – the way the NFL kickers displayed in games. In the seventh grade I became the starting punter/kicker. Every year I was the main guy as far as kicking the football. Eventually I went on to become an all-state kicker in high school. Offers from colleges would come my way. I eventually went on to play professional football for two years.

Basketball season was probably the best time of the year for me. We had a box that we tied to the porch rail. This would serve as our basket. We begged our dad to put up a hoop behind the house. A piece of plywood with a cheap rim bolted on it. My dad clamped a pipe to the house and bolted the backboard to a running-roof board. We practiced everyday on the dirt court – endless hours. Again we watched the varsity basketball players and learned from them – how they held the basketball and shot it. I enjoyed the tournaments, games, and meeting new people from other towns. The most points I ever scored in one game was 68, in middle school, 30.

During track and field season, I found myself in the last position as far as any event. I really loved the high jump and the hurdles. The only problem is that I was competing for one of the three spots on each event. As I lined up behind the high jumpers, Coach Joel Reese looked at me and said, “David, you’ll never be a high jumper – give it up.” It was like he took the inner soul out of me and lowered my self esteem. The other high jumpers laughed at me and made fun of me.

I was so angry at Coach Reese. In reality I should have thanked the coach. Every day after school I went to the track and practiced high jump. I borrowed a film strip of Dwight Stone, an Olympic high jumper. I studied his technique – his steps and arch as he went over the bar. I practiced for three solid weeks. I still remember back at the Boys Ranch Invitational Meet. Leon did not show up on the bus. He was one of the three high jumpers. I immediately asked the coach if I could high jump. The coach insisted that I was not a high jumper, but since Leon was gone he allowed me to high jump. I received my first gold medal that meet in the seventh grade clearing a height of 5’2” – in high school I set a record at 6’3”.

Never give up on something, not even if anyone says, “You can’t do this.”