The Back Story:
Jim is in his 50’s, he plays basketball weekly with other gray-haired guys, believes in movement as a stress-reliever, and that you’re never too old to do something. Meet my father-in-law. I think he’s pretty stellar.
When I approached Jim about an interview, he thought I was joking. He likes to keep to himself, not impose on others, and spend time with those closest to him. But aside from all that, he is an amazingly admirable man. His quiet dignity has touched the lives of many including Tyler, my husband, who still looks to his dad as his biggest hero. And while he’d never say it, his assurance and confidence are projected in the most humble of ways. I know I’m grateful for his example to my kids. They love their Grandpa.
Jim is joining the community of Dynamos. Those people that are moving forward in an active and healthy lifestyle, no matter their age, weight, gender, abilities, skills, or goals. We’re each on a different journey and it’s pretty awesome that we can all be working hard in so many different ways. I believe that sharing this story and other Dynamo stories empowers that person and others to live big, be strong, and push forward in their own journeys. Jim, you’re a power-house. You inspire others. When we come together and share, we come away loving more, accepting more, and becoming more dedicated to our own healthy living.
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
How old are you?
How old do you feel? Why?
30, because of the basketball court. I can keep up with the guys who are 20.
How has active living been a part of your life since you were young?
I had 5 brothers and ever since I can remember my mom took us to the beach or she took us exploring, she took us everywhere to just go and run and get our energy out. We loved doing it so we were playing sports all the time. It was rare that we were just sitting around the house doing nothing. We always had neighborhood friends getting a game together and going to the school and playing or out in the pasture playing, down at the creek exploring. We were always on the go.
When did you get into competitive sports?
Like most kids recess was the favorite part of my day. I learned early that I was pretty good at that stuff so I liked to do it. I didn’t necessarily have to get up and talk in front of people to tell them I could do this, I could go and do it and then everyone could see. So it was kinda a way to express myself without…the kind of way I wanted to do it.
My parents didn’t really let us play organized sports that much. I know a lot of kids did and I really wanted to, but we just didn’t do that until baseball came along. I was probably 10-11. I always had to play up on my brother’s team who was a year and a half older than me. That was okay, cause I blended in, but it was a little intimidating sometimes because those guys were bigger than me. But I think to save money, that’s what they did. But it made me better, made me try harder. On the year where he didn’t play and I played on my own it was much easier. So I played a lot of baseball, football, and basketball. I wanted to play football in highschool, but my parents wouldn’t sign the permission slip because I’d had several concussions before then while playing football…and I was smaller, so they didn’t want me to play. And that was hard, not being able to do that. But now that I look back on it, I don’t have a lot of injuries that football players have…their knees and their back.
I’ve heard you walked on a college baseball team?
I walked on at BYU. I show up the first day and there’s 120 guys trying out for 24 spots to pitch…and they’re from all over the country. They just kept narrowing it down and narrowing it down until there was 24 of us left. I still remember the day I made the team. I was so excited. I played one year of college ball and then went on my mission.
Were you planning on coming back to it?
Yah, I came back to Diablo Valley College and I went and talked to the coach. By then I was almost 25 and these kids were 18. He just said, “This isn’t for you, this is for the young guys.” I said, “I think I can help your team.” He didn’t care about that.
What is the most rewarding sport for you?
Basketball. Because there’s an aerobic workout you get and you don’t even know you’re getting it because you’re focused on the game. For me to go out and run is a little harder than just go and play basketball. I love the feeling when I get 5 or 6 games into and evening and you feel like you’re sweating profusely. You just kinda have a rush that feels really good.
What is your greatest athletic achievement?
Walking on a college baseball team.
But one that was kinda cool to go through was every week the local newspaper picked an athlete. The car dealership would pick them as the Parker Robs Supersport. One week I pitched a one hitter and got 3 hits out of 4 times up against our rival school. It was just cool to get spotlighted and have it written up in the newspaper. It was a first for me.
How do you think your example of healthy living has influenced others?
I think that for the people I play basketball with now, as long as I’m going out there, they’re going out there and vice versa. We’re all in our 50’s, there’s a few younger guys that come, but gradually we’ve seen over the last 20 years guys drop off for one reason or another. To still go out there and do it, I think we kind of motivate each other. It used to be if a guy showed up and he had gray hair he was in. (laughs) He was okay, everyone would say he fits in with us. (laughs)
I was hoping my kids would pick a sport or pick an activity so they could be active. When I was young my dad…up to a point he was really active and then he started to gain weight and got diabetes. I saw that happen and I thought that’s…that pushed me another direction where I didn’t want that to happen. I see that happen to a lot of people. So I just never want to stop playing or moving. Whatever it is. Because I don’t want to go through that when it doesn’t have to happen. That’s what motivates me and I wanted all my kids to be active and to like sports, instead of sitting on the couch, to be out doing it.
(Jim with all his basketball championship shirts)
How has this mindset been a positive thing in your marriage?
When I was younger I played on 2 softball teams and it wasn’t so positive! (laughs) But the positive about that was the kids got to go play at the playground while I went to play softball and the wives got to talk in the bleachers. I think the kids seeing me do that made them probably want to do that or motivate them to do some kind of sport that they like. I just think it’s healthy. As long as you’re with good people doing it.
In trials that have come throughout your life, how has healthy living helped you through them?
I know that for Deanna’s (wife) health, some of the best things we can do is get out and walk. We do that every Saturday. She does it by herself every day. I think when we’re out walking we’re having fun and talking and laughing, it’s just a good time.
I think that sports and working out is a good distraction when you need to relieve stress. Because if you don’t do it, it just keeps building up. I find that when something’s stressful in my life and I go play basketball, I forget about it, I release all that negative energy. It just kinda goes away. And then it will come back after I start thinking about it again, but for that time, it didn’t. It’s a mindset where you’re doing what you want to do and you’re doing something good for yourself and you’re not thinking about all the negative. It gets rid of the stress.
What is one of the hardest things you’ve had to do?
To watch Deanna (wife) suffer in her health and not be able to do anything about it.
What piece of advice do you like to share?
I don’t like to give people advice unless they’re really going to listen…and I do it subtly. If they ask the question I’ll answer it, but I don’t like to just say, “Hey, you should do this.”
But I had a doctor once who was excited about how I was staying in shape a few years ago, he just said keep moving. He always said that, keep moving. I would just tell people don’t ever feel like you’re too old to do something. You can find a group of people to fit in with and do it. Try something new. I did that triathalon, I always wanted to do that. It was a small one, but it was cool to do. Then we did another one. Keep exploring and keep trying to do different things.
What are 2 goals you have right now?
- At one point I thought about the ironman, but that’s probably not going to happen. But there’s a lazy man’s ironman and you can do the swimming, the biking, and the running but you do it at your own pace. Just mark it on a sheet. I know a cousin that’s doing that right now. It’s kinda fun. I think I’ll try to do that.
- When I get over 60 or 70 to still have a basketball team and go to St. George and compete in a tournament they have there. They have senior tournaments for all different sports. I’ve read about a few of them and a lot of these guys are college players, basketball players, and they’re really good. If I can find a group of guys that keeps playing that long then it would be fun to go do that.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I would like people to know that I cared about them and that I tried to be kind to them, no matter what.