18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reaching Out for Help

            In 2004 and 2008 I traveled and competed for months spending every dime I had, and exhausting all available credit given to me to post a reasonable qualifying mark for the Olympic Trials. In 2004 in a tie with two other athletes at 5.50m, we were bumped off the final list by 1 centimeter. I went to the 2004 Trials, watched from the stands, and even had to look at my own biography printed in the event program (they must have ordered them before the final lists came out). I looked at a picture of myself amongst great athletes and I made a promise that never again would I watch an event like this from the sidelines. 
            In 2008 I sat next to the phone waiting for a call saying that I was one of the last athletes to be accepted into the competition. The phone call came, but came with bad news, “you will not be competing at the Olympic Trials” a voice said, heart break followed, I had failed again, and broken my own promise. My Subaru sat in the driveway at the ready, full tank of gas, poles loaded on the roof rack, clothes, uniform, and sleeping bag. I remember wondering the hills on my mountain bike, and playing hours of disc golf over the next 24 hours to try and help kill the pain, but nothing seemed to help. The following morning, another call came, “your in the meet, you need to get to Eugene as fast as possible.” Knowing the Mens prelim was in about 48 hours, I had to get from Pocatello, ID to Eugene, OR as fast as possible. Convinced to fly by a great friend, I charged a one way plane ticket to my credit card, hopped a flight and headed over. The same friend Paul Gensic drove all the way to Portland (because poles can’t be flown into Eugene) picked me up and let me crash on his tiny hotel room floor despite the fact that his pregnant wife was in the room with us. It was so kind of them to look after me and I am forever grateful. The Gensic family was helping me with meals, Paul’s parents even chipped in. Other than that, I was eating a mass of free crackers, chicken salad, yogurt, and granola bars provided in the few athlete hospitality areas to supplement the meals that I was unable to pay for. The story gets funnier from there, but is long, to summarize; Parents came for awhile, crashed with them, coach came, crashed with him, hitched a ride to Seattle and back to compete, slept on the ground in random locations in Seattle, came back to Eugene and hitched a ride to Idaho in a car my coach borrowed, poles fell off on the road at one point. It was an interesting trip to say the least.
            So as you can see, money, was not something I had. It was hard for me to swallow when I found out that the other two athletes my Coach had come to work with at the Trials were both paying him $1,000 dollars for his travel and his trouble. He and I both knew that this was an impossibility for me, and he never asked for a dime. But to this day it is still a blow to my ego, was embarrassing at the time, and upsetting to the other two athletes. There was nothing I could do. After a summer of competition I was able to lay $500 aside and gave it to him immediately upon my return to Pocatello, hoping that I could come up with another $500 as time went on. I couldn’t, and it still bothers me.
            This time around I want him to know how important it is too me to pay him that amount or more. A wonderful group of people put together a fund raising event for me before I left on this last trip to southern California. When they gave me the money they said ‘use this money in the best way you see fit to give yourself the right situation and opportunities to make the Olympic Team’. Having my coach there at the meet is the right situation and best opportunity for me to have a chance at making the Olympic Team. So using some of that money to pay him seems logical to me. He is not a rich man, and has developed his own set of hardships in the last year. He needs help, just like I need help, and I need him. He would go for free, but I don’t want that. After traveling around California this past month, I still have enough money to get to Eugene and handle all my expenses, but I don’t have enough to pay Dave, and I have too. It’s hard for me to explain how important it is to me, but it is. I can spare about $500, again, and a good friend of mine is throwing in $250. So I only need $250 more, then I reach my $1,000 goal for a coach who in my opinion is worth $1,000,000. I don’t like asking for help, and I don’t like asking for money. This is humbling and difficult for me. So I’m reaching out to you. My donation button on this blog is directly linked to a checking account I can access from anywhere. If you can spare a few bucks and want to help me and help the man who got me to where I am today, please do. It’s easy to donate and I will be forever grateful.
6/21/2012 -The money came in. No need for anymore donations. Dave is getting his well deserved $1,000! Thank you so much.-

            On a lighter note, the radiator in my car cracked today and luckily I was only a few miles away from one of my best friends Steve Murschel, who is an amazing mechanic and was still at work. I’m so glad that it happened today while I was in town, instead of tomorrow when I will be hundreds of miles from home, on my way to one of the biggest Track and Field events in the world. A few bucks out of the travel fund, a brand new radiator, the Subaru, as always, presses on and I’m confident it will carry me safely on yet another great adventure. Thanks for bailing me out again Steve.

1 comment:

  1. Paul,

    Best of luck this week/weekend. I have followed your career over the past few years and I am impressed. I'm a UC Davis pole vaulter (seen you at a few meets) and will have my fingers crossed for you!

    Fly high!


    Follow me on twitter : @vaulterchef