So, it was about six months into my training and shortly after the Texas Senior Games that I finally quit boozing it up every day.

Surprise, surprise — I started getting in shape faster and improving a little quicker at pole vault.

All my vault buddies in New Braunfels had qualified for the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque, and were understandably all excited about it. There were some other qualifying meets coming up in other nearby states like New Mexico and Oklahoma, and so there was still a chance I could join the fun. The Oklahoma games were in October, about five or six months away, and so I decided to give it a shot.

I asked Bubba if he’d consider going up there to coach me, and he agreed. He also said as long as he was going to go, he might as well enter and jump, too.


The meet was at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. It wasn’t a bad drive up there at all, and my wife and I met Bubba at the hotel. I had a pole strapped to the side of the car and didn’t have sense enough to ask if I could store it somewhere on the ground floor. Since then, hotels have always let me store poles in some vacant conference room or somewhere, but this was my first time taking poles anywhere and I didn’t have a clue. Bubba probably could have warned me, but either he didn’t think about it or wanted me to figure it out for myself. Part of the learning process, ya know.

We were on the second floor and so I carried that 12-foot pole to one of the narrow stairwells at the end of the hall and tried to maneuver its back and forth up the steps. If somebody had captured it on video, I probably could have entered it on that TV show, “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” or whatever it’s called.

I finally got it up and then around and in and out and into the second-floor hallway, and into our room.

Early the next morning, we all had breakfast downstairs — I got the pole back out to the car fairly easily this time — and headed to the sports complex. Bubba and I got registered and started warming up. At first, I was jumping pretty much by myself, as I was starting at really low heights and working my way up. I did fairly well, though, and pretty soon other guys were coming in to the competition.

I wound up jumping 7-10, I think it was, and psyched myself out when the bar went up over 8 feet. I took some pretty ugly attempts, but it was good enough for a gold medal and a trip to Albuquerque for Nationals.

I was a damn happy mo-fo.

More later …

Me practicing solo on my birthday