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BallUP Streetball's The Professor - a Hometown Signing

                                                                     The Professor and Author David Espinoza   

 

                                                                  The Professor and Author David Espinoza

 

On Saturday May 16, 2015, it was a special day for a talented young man. Grayson Boucher is also known as "The Professor". He wears #12 on his BallUP Streetball uniform. He now lives in Los Angeles and doesn't get a chance to come visit the place he was raised in - the Salem/Keizer, Oregon area. At Hattawear, which is located at the Reed Opera House, Grayson held a meet and greet and an in-store signing, 12:00-1:00 p.m. for all of his family and fans. Oh, and the best part, this humble young man gave away free signed cards.

"It was a blessing to be able to interact firsthand with such strong supporters of mine in Salem today. I loved every second of it. Big thank you to Luke Hess and Hattawear for being gracious enough to host and promote the signing," Grayson said.

Grayson is the son of Steve and Molly Boucher. He also has a brother, Landon. The first time he touched a basketball as a toddler was when his dad bought him a Larry Bird hoop. Grayson fell in love with basketball and had a difficult time focusing on anything else. His parents tried signing him up for many other activities, but he always went back to basketball.

One of the obstacles he had to overcome was his small frame and height. Grayson was always one of the shortest and skinniest kids playing on any team. But there was something about him that was different from other basketball players - his flashy style of play and his ball-handling skills.

Discipline basketball was too slow for his pace - he'd rather run the court, shoot 3-point shots, and throw a behind-the-back pass. His free-throws were automatic and they still are.

Grayson - The Professor Boucher attended Gubser Elementary School, Whiteaker Middle School, and McNary High School in Keizer, Oregon. He then transferred from McNary to Salem Academy, a private Christian high school. At Salem Academy he blossomed into an elite all-state player that led his team to the state playoffs.

College basketball was much more competitive and the guys were a lot bigger. Grayson was a little nervous at first, but that changed real quick when he gained his confidence - he realized he could definitely battle with the big boys. At the time he was only 5' 8". He played for ChemeketaCommunity College one year and was planning on returning the following year as an improved player on every level of the game.

In 2003 he found out about an open run that the And 1 Mixtape Tour was holding in Portland, Oregon. He and his brother, Landon drove to Portland. There were many ballers trying out showing their ball-handling styles, fancy passes, and sharp shooting. The winner selected would earn a spot on the tour. An ESPN TV series called Streetball was being aired weekly. If Grayson was selected, he would join the tour, he would be one of the players on the show. He was selected! After many city stops the tour would come to an end. It was like the American Idol of basketball. The last player standing would win a contract with And 1. Grayson won that contract!

After a six-year run the show ended and by 2011 no contract was offered to any of the players - Grayson left And 1 with several other players. In 2012, Grayson joined BallUP Streetball, a company based out of Los Angeles, California. BallUP Streetball signed a deal with Fox Sports to air ten TV episodes beginning with a celebrity all-start game. A new adventure began for the Professor.

He joined talented streetballers like Air Up There, Bone Collector, AO, Sik Wit It, the late Escalade (RIP), Springs, Violator, Special FX, Mr. Afrika, and Pat the Rock. The entertaining squad currently tours all over the world - The Professor is a huge hit wherever he plays.

The Professor has added a new adventure. Not knowing all the details of how he started all of this, I'll say that everyone is having a blast with his six episodes of Youtube videos he stars in ... Spiderman Basketball. His hard work of true action while in a Spiderman uniform is mesmerizing. How does he do that!

The hometown visit was a success. I showed up right at 12:00 noon and I saw several people standing around waiting. Many kids had their basketballs ready to be autographed by The Professor. A few minutes later in walks The Professor with a camera crew following him. It was a pleasure seeing him again and it was very exciting watching all of his fans lined up for their chance to take a picture and receive an autograph.

Grayson, God bless you for taking the time to talk to everyone that showed up at your in-store signing. And thank you Hattawear for the use of your store - it was a blast!

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A few years ago my son and I traveled to LA to hang out with Grayson. On a two-day stay I interviewed him for a featured story about his life and what inspired him to choose his path. His full-detailed story is remarkable. Please order the book ... The Professor Grayson Boucher Plus More NW Sports Stories. You will enjoy reading about what he has been through. His success is not something that came easy ... he worked very hard - trust me.

Author David Espinoza - Book-Signing Event

Author David Espinoza will hold a book-signing event at Big Town Hero. He would like to thank Scott White, the owner, for the use of his amazing soup-sandwich place. Stop by at your convenience, grab a sandwich, and meet the author, who has written a total of four books and one memoir. There is plenty of parking right in front of the venue. Date: Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Place: Big Town Hero in Keizer, Oregon

Address: 5099   River Road N, Keizer, OR 97303

Directions: Keizer sits next to Salem - heading south off I-5 take Keizer exit, turn right go a couple of miles then left on River Road - go about a mile, it's on the right inside a mini-mall.

                                                              Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid

                                                              Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid

Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid  was published in 2011 and is the first part of the new release. In this realism-fiction novel, a poor family packs up in Texas and moves to Oregon. Carlos has just graduated from the eighth grade and he's not too happy - Dimmitt, Texas, is a place one might call his comfort zone - his friends and a sports career were left behind. When he arrives at Gervais High School, his family is broke and the family struggles. He meets a very wealthy kid, Harv, in the berry field and becomes friends with him.  When he meets his high school sweetheart (Liz), his disappointment takes a drastic turn. The only problem is the discrimination he faces from Liz Bradford's dad, Ted. This diverse story is about two cultures coming together. In addition, will Carlos and Harv help the Gervais Cougars make it to state?

                                                           Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II

                                                           Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II

New Release Title: Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II

ISBN: 978-1-60862-590-1

Page Count: 258

Price: $15.00

Publisher: E-BookTime, LLC

Genre: Sports Fiction

Description:

Spiral back to 1980 when kids were talking to each other instead of texting. In this Gervais High School story it's senior year. Carlos has several life-changing decisions to make. The Edmonton Eskimos, from the Canadian Football League, offer him a great deal. Liz Bradford has acquired two new friends, Kalin Jensen and Brianna Harper. Liz doesn't agree with Carlos going pro right out of high school. She feels that a college education is more important. Her brother, Harv, feels differently. Dirk Newman has graduated and continues to be the antagonist – a prejudiced bully that lingers around wanting Carlos to fail. This realism-fiction novel is about two high school sweethearts growing up and diving into the challenges of the world. The classroom, senior skip day, graduation, airports, a lost love, and the big game are all brought to life. After graduation day, Carlos and Liz are tested on how strong their love is for each other. Will Carlos accept a two-year contract to play professional football in the Canadian Football League?

I wrote this two-part story with the consideration of all ages. I want everyone to enjoy a clean read that sends a positive message while delivering an education of true places in a fun way.

I plan to have all of my books available for sale that day as well. I look forward to meeting you, if you purchase one of my books, you'll get a free DavidEspi.com pen.

Thank you so much for your support!

David Espinoza

What Does it Take to Write a Book?

                                                         2015 Author David Espinoza

                                                         2015 Author David Espinoza

Before I write a fiction book, my first thought is, do I even want to do this? As we all know, even writing a two-page essay is plenty of work. Firmly and convicting I decide to myself, yes I really want to do this!

The first thing I come up with is an idea - a topic. I'm sure many authors have their own approach, but I'll share my approach with you. I think about this topic for a few weeks and dream about the many ideas ... how can I start this story? What are some of the  conflicts, relationships, and adventures that will provoke the reader to want more. Is there an antagonist and a protagonist? The ending is also something that I struggle with mentally - I normally don't decide that until I've written most of the story. Do I want this to be a happy ending or a sad ending? Personally, I don't like cliffhangers. I try my best to write three different endings and then select the best one that flows with the entire story.

The characters that I build in my story are people that I take great pride in creating. My mind leads me to people I've known from the past. The personalities, the appearances, and the behaviors. I put a twist in some of my characters visualizing their actions and what might happen based on their impulses. At fifty-six years of age I have so many memorable experiences that I take full advantage of my knowledge and apply it to the story.

When and where is this story taking place? This is important so that I can describe a setting or maybe music in the background. In my newest book, I picked the 1980s and the place is Gervais High School, simply because that's where I graduated from - I know the area well. This makes it easy to write about places where characters hang out.

I try to outline my chapters ahead of time, although it seems like I always change the titles or add new chapters along the way based on flow. While in this writing process I get frustrated at times because I discover that I've written something in the first chapter that doesn't pan out with what I wrote in the fourth chapter. Naturally, I go back and rewrite for accuracy on context.

The frustrations and tiring work of writing a book is something I detach from the enjoyment of creativity and the passion of telling a story and sending a positive message to the readers. The sacrifice is worth giving to the audience.

After the first year of writing this book, I start seeing my characters come to life when I'm sleeping at night. In my new book, Carlos (a poor Hispanic kid) and Liz ( a wealthy White girl) are high-school sweethearts experiencing many things during their senior year, conflicts, new challenges, and new friendships. Not everyone accepts interracial couples. Dirk is the bully and the antagonist that can't stand to see a Hispanic kid with one of his own kind. As the senior year is coming to an end, Carlos is faced with a major decision. Will he bypass a college scholarship to play football for a chance at signing a major contract to play professional football? This could bring his family out of poverty.

My thoughts went to Liz's character and how she deals with this. Carlos would be giving up an education for big money in the Canadian Football League. Liz would rather Carlos play college football - she has her reasons.

As I develop the scenarios in my mind day after day, my head is numb from thinking and writing. Sometimes I'll take a couple of days off to rest my brain - that helps a lot. As I arrive at completing the first draft after two years of work, I see a light at the end of a tunnel. It's quite relieving to finally be done with my main idea of a story.

The not-so-fun work begins. Paragraph transitions, grammar errors, correct spelling, and rewrites. This process is called editing. I have about five grammar-reference books that I use. It's amazing how many times I will read the story I wrote for editing purposes - on the average, about twenty times - we're talking over 250 pages. I print the manuscript out - much easier than sitting at the computer editing. My wife, Loni, is my reader and editing partner. It's so important to have a different set of eyes. I encourage anyone that writes a book to get a reader.

The book cover is another piece that is crucial. I want the cover to catch someone's attention and to fit what the story is about. I pick the photos and I write the text for the back or front of the cover. My son, Jake, studied computer graphics at the University of Oregon. He designs all my book covers. My son, Matt, does a great job with photography - he provides the photo for the front cover.

It takes dedication, persistence, and hard work. I lay down a set of objectives and one goal. The most important object is, write every day even if it's for one hour a day. Use Microsoft Word (or word processor that publisher requires) and get a flash drive to save the progress you've made. Find a comfortable seat and stretch a lot - sitting is not good for the back. Get plenty of rest. Look away from the screen periodically to prevent eye strain - maybe look out of the window for a few minutes. There's more objectives, but I won't list all of them. My one goal is to see the finished paperback book that I wrote - many people will not have the same feeling as the author. The author knows what it took to put this product into the competitive market.

When I feel the manuscript is clean, I then submit it to my publisher. We start the publishing process which is another challenge and adventure - I won't talk too much about this. It involves a contract that the publishing company has the author sign - must read carefully. The manuscript is received from the publisher in a PDF file. It is sent back and forth with revisions from the author until both sides are happy. Once approved, the cover and manuscript are sent to the printing plant for setup and print. After a few days the book is available for online sells through Amazon or any book stores. The author can order a shipment of books for signings and appearances.

Keep in mind that every author publishes a different way. Some authors may even have an agent or a publicist to help with marketing - I can't really afford one right now. But maybe some day I will get an offer for nation-wide distribution - still working on that part. So when someone wants to know about publishing, well, that's a tough one to answer because there are many ways.

My fourth and newest book is called, Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II - sports fiction. It took me roughly two years to write this story - I feel passionate about the subject. This uplifting story sends a positive message and will keep you going chapter after chapter. Release month is June 2015.

                                                            Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II

                                                            Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II

I'm holding a book signing on Saturday, June 20, 2015, 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. in Keizer, Oregon, at Big Town Hero. It will be an informal book signing ... drop by and purchase my new book when it's convenient for you. I look forward to meeting you.

My goal is to someday make it to the best seller list - God willing. What I stand for as an author, is to deliver clean reading material for pleasure to everyone out there of all ages.

Thank you for taking the time,

David Espinoza

Salem Hoops Project - Every Kid Deserves a Chance

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Matt Espinoza, Director of Salem Hoops Project

Too often, lack of funds is the reason a child may not be able to participate in a basketball camp. I’ve seen many young kids eager to learn how to shoot the basketball or dribble it the right way. Sometimes unfortunate kids envy the players that experience being on a basketball team and playing to have fun.

A basketball camp could cost anywhere from $60.00 to $125.00 per day depending on where it is and who’s organizing it. Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s awesome that coaches are holding these basketball camps or clinics. It is hard work – teaching kids fundamentals and drills.  Private lessons can cost a parent on the average $60.00 per hour – maybe more depending on who the trainer is.

There are families that just can’t afford those high-priced camps, clinics, or private lessons. There are so many single moms, single dads, and married parents that know nothing about basketball, but their child wants to learn basketball skills. Those kids often suffer the lack of fundamental skills when they get into high school. The result is either getting cut from the team or sitting on the bench with lack of playing time. Kids sign up to play. A survey says that the number one reason kids play sports is to have fun. Sitting the bench is not fun. Sometimes kids quit for that reason.

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Dribbling Skills with Coach Noza

Salem Hoops Project is “Free” and spearheaded by Director and Coach Matt Espinoza – he’s the founder of the program that he started in Salem, Oregon, at McKay High School. This community program has grown fast. He’s currently a basketball coach at McKay High School, a basketball trainer at Shoot360, and has completed his Masters Degree in Education. Matt has been certified in Strength and Conditioning, Weightlifting, and has learned basketball skills from some the best college coaches. Coach Noza learned many skills while he played college basketball and even two years of professional basketball. He now demonstrates the skills to students in a way they understand – he’s very patient too.

Noza set two 3-point shooting records at Southern Oregon University in 2007 where he was awarded a national scholar athlete award as well. He’s an intense student of the game keeping up with the newest drills to help a basketball player – one of my favorites to watch is the basketball-tennis drill for coordination. It’s so important to have your child learn from a person that has a passion for the game of basketball. This means that your child will learn the correct footwork, shooting form, ball-handling skills, etc. in a fun way – and the best part, it’s “Free”.

When Coach Noza first started the program, he used his own funds to buy prizes to raffle off to the kids. Now he receives basketballs and other items to give as prizes from donors.

High school basketball players help at the clinic, which is very much appreciated. All of the high school volunteers that I’ve talked to have had fun helping out the younger kids and being part of Salem Hoops Project. It’s so rewarding to know you’ve helped someone else in the community.

This is how Coach Noza describes Salem Hoops Project on his website – No child should be limited from opportunities because of financial limitations. The aim of Salem Hoops Project is to provide organized basketball training through use of donors and volunteers. While basketball may simply be a sport, it also provides youth with a positive environment to develop life-skills. Athletics, if used correctly, can be a gateway to achievement in all aspects of life. The Salem Hoops Project is spearheaded by Matt Espinoza. Matt is a 2007 graduate of Southern Oregon University and has been coaching basketball in the Salem-Keizer School District since then.

“The Salem Hoops Project will provide area youth with a place to develop life-skills, personal growth, and a sense of community using the game of basketball as a source of inspiration,” Matt Espinoza said.

Salem Hoops Project clinics are normally during holidays, because that’s when parents can bring their kids to the clinic. If your son or daughter is looking for a place to improve their basketball skills at no cost, please consider bringing them to Salem Hoops Project. K-5 and 6th– 8th grades have set schedules throughout the year. Every child deserves an opportunity to improve their skills in a positive environment.

If you have questions or would like to register your child, please email salemhoopsproject@gmail.com… also visit www.coachnoza.com for more details.

Thanks for your support!

A Wakeup Call and a Shock, No Lord Not Twice!

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Loni and David in 2005

My wife Loni and I recently celebrated our ninth-year wedding anniversary – we got married in 2005. I took her out to Red Lobster in Salem and we had such a great time. We both agreed that this past year had been the best year of our marriage which has grown amazingly – we are definitely “one” and love each other very much.

Let me take you on a flashback. On December 6th of 1980 I married, Candi, my first wife – my high school sweetheart. To make a long story short, we were married for thirteen years before brain cancer took her from me and my two boys (who were 9 and 11 years old at the time). It was then that I realized how much I actually loved a person – tough times.

On Monday, January 5th, 2015, my wife, Loni, returned to school after a wonderful Christmas vacation. I went in to get a much anticipated haircut at the Keizer Station. I wanted to look presentable since I was scheduled to appear on a local TV show called “Awesome Authors”. My wife always tells me, “Dave, wait until you get home to answer your text messages – they can wait.” While my hair was getting cut I didn’t answer my text messages. The haircut was finally completed so I drove to my next destination – had some errands to run and bills to mail off.

At 11:45 a.m. I parked my SUV and pulled out my phone immediately … an alarming message, “Hi Dave, this is Artonya. We have been trying to reach you. Loni is here in the ER at Salem Hospital.” I felt my body go into shock – almost like feeling numb for two seconds. I took a deep breath and responded, “On my way!” – shifted the gear into reverse and then into drive and I sped as fast as I could down Portland Rd. I heard my phone again, pulled over momentarily to read the text – it was Artonya (the school principal) again, “She said don’t worry.” My wife knows me so well – she knew I would be driving like a maniac to get to her. I was hoping a police would see me and escort me to the ER – luckily I didn’t need that service.

While driving to the emergency room all I could think about was two scriptures, Matthew 9:22, when Jesus said, “Take heart daughter – your faith has made you well.” Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path. I kept thinking, no Lord, not twice! After remembering those two scriptures, I found myself relaxed and somehow calmed down.

When I arrived at the hospital emergency wing, I saw my wife with Artonya next to her in the room (thank you Artonya for staying with my wife until I got there). And thank you to the Brush College Elementary Staff for taking care of her while the ambulance was on its way.

Loni was feeling really good when she drove to work that morning. Her two first classes went well, but during her third class she began to slur her speech. She immediately knew it was a sign of a stroke and notified another teacher. Loni herself took all the right steps, especially having someone call 911 to get her into the ER ASAP.

I prayed with my wife in the room and I thought about those two scriptures again. They wheeled her off for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging – image slices of the brain). While I was waiting nervously all I could think about was how my first wife had speech problems due to a tumor pressing on that part of the brain. I notified our kids, some family members, and the school on what was happening.

When the results came back much later, the ER doctor said that the MRI was clean and he did not see any sign of a major stroke. It was possibly a TIA (tiny stroke). The brain has tiny vessels that go everywhere and somehow a clot or break of oxygen affected the speech part of the brain. The slurred speech happened for two or three minutes back at her school. After that she could talk normal. She then experienced headaches if she talked too much.

After a few days off, we visited her family doctor and we learned more about strokes and what we needed to do to prevent any in the future. This really caught my attention. My wife and I immediately changed our diets to start eating healthier. The funny thing is that she eats so much healthier than I do – ironic. Our kids tell us regularly to start eating healthier and encourage us all the time. Well, I guess this certainly hit home.

 

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Loni's Flowers from David

The good news, I drove Loni to work on Thursday morning. She is doing better every day and I’m so thrilled to see her laughing again. I jokingly told her, you need to start eating more McDonald’s hamburgers– ha-ha!

We are following the doctor’s orders to help prevent this from happening again. I recommend you all to exercise, check your blood pressure regularly, and eat healthy. Also, do research on what causes strokes. There are many opinions but they are all pretty consistent. I’m so thankful that I didn’t lose my precious wife, and that the good Lord answers prayers.

Ahmed Muhumed, from Ethiopia to the United States

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2014 Ahmed Muhumed - Distance Runner

Just talking to Ahmed and watching his smile you wouldn’t know what this young man has endured. He’s not your average high school student. He has a gift that he discovered, not in Ethiopia, but at Ron Russell Middle School in Portland, Oregon. He now attends West Salem High School and is determined to break some personal records in the 1500 meters, 3000 meters, and 5000 meters.

Ahmed is the son of Abdiwahab Abdi (Dad) and Fardowsa Ahmed (Mom). He has four brothers and four sisters. His dad is disabled but still finds time to volunteer three times a week at AYCO (African Youth and Community Organization) in Portland – he enjoys helping kids.

“When we were in Ethiopia, my dad fell down this deep hole on the ground that was meant for garbage. He injured himself severely and is limited on what he can do,” Ahmed said.

His mom stays at home with the kids – she does daycare work as well. It’s very difficult for a non-English-speaking person to find work. During the summers it’s much easier.

Ahmed grew up in eastern Africa (Ethiopia). He lived in a small town called Kabribayah close to a refugee camp – a lot of poverty in that area. For example, $50.00 in the U.S.A. is equivalent to $1500.00 in Kabribayah. He would walk six miles roundtrip to school every day. The school he attended is not like here in the U.S.A. He speaks of five-year-old kids through ten-year-old kids mixed in the same class. Every kid has the opportunity to advance at their own pace.

Ahmed was known as the smart kid in his neighborhood. His friends would always come to his home to ask for help or to play. He was more than willing to help his friends.

“I had friends knocking at my door all the time. I knew all of them by name. I’ll give you my educated guess of how many – let’s say around 200 friends,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed speaks of how his family was in the upper-middle class in Ethiopia, but here in the United States that class would be very poor. Kids played everyday, soccer mainly, but there would never be a chance to advance – it was just for fun.

“There wasn’t much money – plenty of poor kids running around everywhere. We would have fun and laugh all the time despite that hardship,” Ahmed said.

In 2005 there was a United Nations’ program. Not being clear of all the details to this program, Ahmed speaks of how the officials were giving families the opportunities to relocate to countries like Europe, the U.S., etc. His dad and mom were not thrilled at first, but when they learned about a possible better education and life for their kids, they decided to apply for a chance at coming to the United States. It wasn’t easy as they had to pass a series of written tests, medical examinations, etc. They had to meet strict qualifications. The family was approved after a few years – they had met all the qualifications and were U.S.A. bound.

Ahmed and his family arrived in Portland, Oregon, September 2011. He attended seventh and eighth grade at Ron Russell Middle School in southeast Portland. It was there that P.E. Teacher Mrs. Maccomber inspired this young man to become a runner. She had recognized how well he had done in the pacer test as a seventh grader. He scored 107 and later, 136. She also witnessed him running the 1600 meters in six minutes flat.

“Hey Ahmed, You’re doing track right?” Mrs. Maccomber asked.

“No, I’m doing soccer,” Ahmed said.

“Ahmed, if you run the 1500 meters in 4:15 I will pay for all of your high school sports’ fees at David Douglas,” she said.

Ahmed came really close – he ran a 4:30 in the 1500 meters. The P.E. teacher was so impressed by his dedication and work ethic to try and meet her request that she agreed to pay for his fees. Ahmed started realizing that he could be a very good runner. He had never been part of a track club, but worked hard at improving.

During his freshman year of high school his parents made a decision to move to Salem – about an hour away from Portland. They chose West Salem High School for Ahmed to attend. His brothers and sisters would attend there as well. West Salem is an area that consists of middle to upper-class families. In the flats there are more low-income families. Ahmed’s family settled in the flats.

Ahmed is not your average high school student. His hobbies are not watching TV, going to movies, playing video games, or hanging out with friends. His hobbies are cooking for his family, taking care of his brothers and sisters, and interpreting for his parents, who don’t speak much English. In addition to knowing English, Ahmed knows three more languages – Somali, Amharic, and Arabic.

“No one really knows that I enjoy cooking – especially Somali food. Back where I come from a lot of the people in the refugee camp were Somali. My grandma was really like my mother when I was growing up. I would help her walk across the street. My mom was always super busy with many things. Grandma taught me how to cook. She taught me many other things too – especially how to help people,” Ahmed said.

One can only imagine how tough the adjustment must have been for Ahmed, coming from such a different culture and accomplishing the many things he has at West Salem. As a freshman and sophomore he was the district champion in cross country and in track and field events. He has run 15:03 in the 5K cross country. He has run 8:46 in the 3K, and 4:03 in the 1500 meters. He was recently named the 2014 SJ All-Mid-Valley boys cross country athlete of the year.

“I run six days a week, and I realize I still have so much more room to improve. Running in the West Salem hills is great,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed admits that at West Salem the people are different than where he was raised. He’s learning so much everyday and in the academic world he has improved to a 3.8 GPA. He speaks of how his parents have supported him by just simply loving him and encouraging him to have fun but work hard at achieving his goals in life.

“The students at West Salem respect me because I’m a great runner. People tell me I smile all the time. I don’t have many real friends here, but I think I have a lot of fans here. They treat me good, maybe there’s some drama here and there, but not any different than any other student,” Ahmed said.

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Ahmed in the middle preparing for a race

As a runner, Ahmed is the type of person that encourages runners that compete against him. He likes to support his competitors. One of his favorite memories is coming from behind and winning a race. At the end of the race, the person he passed up congratulated him and said, you are great man!

Ahmed has a long term goal of being the OSAA 6A State Champion in cross country and in track and field – he believes he can do it by his senior year. He would like to break 4:00 by running a 3:54 1500 meters, and he would like to break 8:46 by running an 8:25 3K. I wish him the very best and I’m rooting for him all the way. Keep on going Ahmed, never give up.

Ahmed was interpreting for me as I asked his mom some questions.

“I’m very proud of him. I want him to be successful … first in education and then in sports. We are all adjusting good here in the U.S.A.,” his mom said.

Ahmed, what are your two favorite moments in running?

Winning the 3K at the Twighlight Relays as a freshman and winning the 5K at the Harrier Classic in 2014.

What are your favorite subjects in school?

My favorites are Computer Science and World Geography.

Who is your favorite athlete?

Mo Farah, a Somali-born long distance runner from Great Britain.

What advice can you give a younger athlete?

Give it time. Don’t give up and stay positive.

ESPI ESSAY CONTEST! Author is Giving Away $100.00 Cash

Salem, Oregon, Author David Espinoza The holidays are approaching fast and I thought to myself, I have to do something for my readers – I appreciate them so much! Most people can certainly use some extra cash this time of the year. Yes! An ESPI ESSAY CONTEST is perfect.

Starting immediately, all you have to do is write a one-page essay on any of my books. You are welcome to use two pages, but not necessary. The winner will receive $100.00 cash.

Deadline to enter this contest is December 16th, 2014. Winner will be announced on December 24th – Christmas Eve. Their essay will be posted on my website.

Send a one-page essay to: David Espinoza, P.O. Box 20393, Keizer, OR 97307. I live in Salem, OR, but my P.O. Box is in Keizer.

Of course … you have to read one of the three books I’ve written.

To order autographed books, mail a check or money order payable to David Espinoza. Look at the top tab "Order Autographed Copy" for retail prices and order information. You can also order through Amazon, just click one of the book covers to the right.

Everyone is eligible to enter except my immediate family members (sorry family).

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement through all my author experiences. I’m looking forward to releasing my fourth book “Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid II”.

I’m excited to read your essays – Good Luck to all!

 

I Happen to Enjoy Sports Stories

Author David Espinoza and Grandson I, David Espinoza, have been one of the authors accepted at the Oregon State Fair since 2008. There is a process involved where you have to apply. I was thankful that I was accepted with the first book I wrote, “Noza A True Basketball Success Story”. This year, 2014, will be my seventh year attending – I feel blessed to be a part of the Oregon Author’s Table in the Americraft Center.

There’s about twenty five or thirty Oregon authors that have a contract to be there the entire duration – eleven thirteen-hour days. That is a grind! I enjoy the thousands of people I get to meet. The objective is to sell an autographed copy of one of my books – to give pleasure to the reader. It’s also fun and educational when I answer any questions they might have.

The Oregon State Fair is so amazing. The rides, with people screaming and having fun, are a sight to see. The food is so tasty – all kinds. The entertainment is always enjoyable – with plenty being free. The vendors’ booths with all kinds of products or services make it a full-day of fun and education. At night the lights are full of beautiful colors and the weather always seems to cooperate every year. The animals are always exciting to see. Last year I saw a lion up close and a panther – doesn’t happen too often.

I sit in the Americraft building in a four-foot space among all the other authors. There are sports-story books (me), fantasy, hiking, history, children’s’ books, etc. One of the well-known authors that attends every year is Bill Sullivan – hiking anywhere in Oregon? He’s got the book for you.

It’s not only work for me, but entertaining at times. You’d be amazed at what people ask. Once there was an elderly lady walking by. We have this huge sign that reads “Oregon Authors” hanging above the center of the area. She looked at me and asked, “Could you tell me where the Oregon authors are?” Another time I had to chase a kid through the fairgrounds. He thought the books were free so he walked out with one of my Noza books.

I happen to enjoy writing sports stories – a passion. Some people are proud to give their opinions on what I write. One man looked at my books and said, “Sports huh? Don’t read the stuff.” A lady once walked by slowly as she stared at my books.

“I hate that those sports players get millions of dollars – they ain’t worth it!” she said.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Mary.”

“What do you do for a living Mary?”

“I’m an accountant.”

“Do you think people would pay a ticket price to watch you crunch numbers?”

She gave me the dirtiest look and walked off super fast. That was the second year I was there. I have since learned to not get offended by what people say. I’ve learned to just smile and thank them for stopping by.

One time, former Governor Barbara Roberts came by and took a picture with my books. One year Gerry Frank was sitting next to me signing his book. I’ve met several famous people walking through including WNBA and NBA players. They usually buy my Noza book. I’ve met many teachers that like my “Poor Kid, Wealthy Kid” book. I'm currently writing a sequel to this one.

This year I have a new book, “The Professor – Grayson Boucher Plus More NW Sports Stories” – eight success stories from the northwest. Many of the athletes I wrote about in this book are from Salem, Oregon. I hope to see you at the state fair this year. Come say “hi” to me and pick up one of my books.

Thank you to the readers that have enjoyed reading my books or my blog. Every year I see some of you come by – thank you from the bottom of my heart. The reason I love to write is to share with you all – to make it an enjoyable escape from your everyday life.

My Mom, My Inspiration, My Hero

I really feel that a good mother has one of the toughest jobs in this world. Don’t get me wrong, a father has a huge role to play as well, I mean come on – after all I’m a father.

My mom, Gabriela (Maiden name Veliz) Espinoza was raised down in the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo County, in Texas – one of the poorest counties in the country. She came from a very large family. She worked in the fields picking cotton, chopping weeds, and cooking for her family. She met my dad, Wences, in the 1940s and they got married. Following that they had six kids – I’m one of those kids. Wences and Gabriela migrated to north Texas in 1959 and then to Oregon in 1976.

It’s very difficult to forget how much work Mom did for me. How much love she displayed by her actions. She never really had to say “I love you David,” Mom merely expressed it by her example – I just knew she loved me.

The simplest things – In Texas, when it rained it poured hard. Mud was left for a few days. Mom would carry me across the mud onto the porch so I wouldn’t get muddy. She’s the one that got muddy.

It was always her that surprised me, she did the planning and made sure I had a cake on my birthday. Our family did not have much money, we were very poor. With six kids and a single income (my dad working a labor job) it wasn’t easy for her. I'll always remember the surprise birthday parties.

Mom was our alarm clock every morning for school – her yelling at us. It was important that her kids get an education. She made it to the seventh grade and then had to drop out due to financial reasons – hard times back in her days. It was because of her that I stayed in school – I graduated from high school, and then I graduated from college. She didn’t want her son to end up like her or her husband. Countless times she would tell me and her other children how important school was.

She loved to sing, and would sing me songs when I was sad. One of her favorite songs was “Snowbird” by Ann Murray – she would sing that countless times. It would cheer me up because of the funny faces she would make at me.

She was a strong lady and discipline was very important to her. She made sure that I stayed away from trouble. If you are a parent I’m sure you can relate to the challenges of raising children.

Mom did not get much sleep – trust me, with six kids? I raised two kids and I know how much work that was. I cannot imagine six kids, but she did it! With one kid half dressed and another kid crying, and two others fighting over the one bathroom we had – whew!

In 1963 I got into a serious accident. My mom drove ninety miles an hour in a 1955 Ford Sedan with me bleeding next to her. The police stopped her, and in a few seconds they were escorting her to the Amarillo hospital at a very high speed. I’m alive today because of my mom’s caring and courageous display of action.

Mom chased away the girls that came to my door when I was in the seventh and eighth grade. Thanks mom, I was much too young to date girls.

The simplest things, I would go swimming during the hot summers at the local pool – admission was only 25 cents back then. After swimming all day, I’d come home tired and hungry. Mom had a warm plate of beans, rice, and tortillas ready on the table – to top it off, watermelon for dessert.  You would appreciate that more if only you knew how great of a cook she was – the best in Texas and in Oregon.

In Texas we lived in a neighborhood that had some rough kids. My mom would confront any of them if they were throwing rocks at our house or picking on her children. It was quite a scene watching her walk over to the neighbors to discuss issues with them.

The simplest things, Mom would make sure we had Christmas presents every year when I was growing up. The Sears charge card would come out. It was worth it to her – even if it took the rest of the year to pay it off.

My mom liked flowers. She liked to draw pictures – very artistic. My mom enjoyed reading the Bible and magazines. She told me about God and made me go to church every Sunday. Thanks for that Mom, your introduction paved the way for me to follow the Lord, my savior Jesus Christ.

The simplest things, Mom would go to garage sales and buy clothes for me. She would iron my clothes so they would look nice on me. She would patch up my pants if they got torn … and trust me, they got torn a lot.

Mom would take care of me if I got sick, whether it was the flu, a cold, or an injury. With five other kids she made time for me. I remember her caring words “do you feel better?”

The simplest things, Mom knew what I was doing and who I was hanging out with. She had an amazing connection with other moms. She let me know if I should not be doing certain things. Thanks mom, you helped me become a better person.

I watched my mom cry when something wasn’t right with her family. I watched my mom cry when one of her kids was leaving for a trip. She was close to all of her kids, and I was one of them.

I watched my mom laugh when something funny happened – trust me with six kids many funny things happened. She had such a nice laugh, and her teeth were all so straight and white. I used to impersonate people and I remember her always asking me to do that again – she could not stop laughing.

Mom wearing the mum I bought her (sorry, the only pic I had)
Mom wearing the mum I bought her (sorry, the only pic I had)

My mom would read the paper and discover things happening in the community. The Punt Pass and Kick Contest put on by the Ford car dealership at the time was one activity. I entered and took first place. Thanks mom for telling me about that. Mom also saw an ad about a plane flying over the courthouse square and dropping thousands of ping pong balls, which all had a prize in them. We walked down and caught a lot of them.

Mom kept our house clean, even if the carpet was torn or the counters were old, she cleaned them every day. She also mopped the floors regularly. Thanks mom for teaching me how to keep a house clean.

I was into sports and as a freshman I made the varsity team in track and field. My team was traveling to the Amarillo Relays and staying two nights – it was a huge meet. My mom was full of smiles. She was working for a grade school as a teacher’s aide at the time. I could tell she was very proud of me and my accomplishments. I was a hurdler and a high jumper for the team. That was the first time that I missed my mom – the two nights without seeing her were very difficult. When I returned home from the trip, the house was empty and I decided to take a nap. I heard the front door open as I slowly woke up. It was my mom and she said, “Awe, there’s my star athlete, David.” I was so happy to see her and her smile.

When I was a sophomore I made the varsity football team. Back in Dimmitt, Texas, they have a tradition during homecoming. Each player buys a mum (a white carnation with a purple ribbon) for their mom. At the homecoming pep rally, each player escorted their mom across the gym when announced. I was so honored to walk my mom across that gym. She made an effort to be there for me. As I walked with her, great memories hit me hard. She wore that mum everywhere until it dried up. And after that she kept it in a plastic for a souvenir. I was so proud of Mom. She had been through so much, not just for me, but for my brothers and sisters as well – a true success.

I’m so glad that we have a day to honor mothers. Mother’s Day is a special day that we should all recognize. My mom was a very special lady and she will always be in my heart no matter what. She went beyond what was expected of her – sacrificed to watch over her family.

Wences and Gabriel in Oregon
Wences and Gabriel in Oregon

My mom was my inspiration, and she is my hero.

One of the saddest days in my life was when my mom passed away in 1990 at age 55 – she was very young. I was so thankful that she had an opportunity to spend time with my two boys – her grandkids. She would play baseball with them in her backyard and laugh with them – a beautiful sight. Mom, it’s because of you that I can say I have done a pretty darn good job raising my boys – you gave me a priceless gift “a great example”.

Mom, I know you won’t be able to read this, but I’m so glad that I got a chance to say, I love you, thank you for being the best mom anyone could ever have, before you went to heaven.

Let me take this moment to wish every mom out there a happy Mother’s Day on Sunday.