This gig to Oregon is very special to me because two of Eugene’s most famous former residents literally saved my life without ever meeting me. They are Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman. In 1998 I was a senior varsity wrestler at Simi Valley High. I got injured in pre-season and it looked like I was never going to wrestle. I had a literal nervous break down panic attack. I couldn’t get off the floor.
This was about 25 years ago to the day. My grandma had to come over to house, after I called my mom to tell the school I was sick, so I wouldn’t be truant. My grandma told me we should go see a movie. I saw that the film Without Limits had one showing at the United Artists theater in the Thousand Oaks mall. That film stared Billy Crudup as the famous long distance runner Steve Prefontaine and Donald Sutherland as the beloved coach and track coach and co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman.
The message of the film was not to focus on winning or being the best. The purpose of the damn race was to challenge yourself. To just be better. That film resinated in my soul my entire senior year, as I battle two injuries and only wrestled 9 matches. I lost them all. I only practiced a few times that year. But every time I thought of quitting, I thought of this film. These men. Those warriors. The actual mighty Ducks. Bowerman’s career became an obsession with me. He inspired me to start coaching wrestling, even though I had no business doing it. But after winning 8 league titles with 3 teams, plus having numerous state qualifiers, and being the head coach of 6 all star teams, a few that won 1st or 2nd place medals at state dual tournies, I think I understood what those men preached. Life is a long game. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. Everyday we have to challenge ourselves and the human heart.
People say things like “I loved that movie” or “it was great!” But Without Limits isn’t just great. It literally saved me and then changed my life. Also, for the record. The film had been out of theaters for two weeks by this point. It was a Thursday they had one showing. It was probably a filler from a reel that never got picked up. The next day,, Friday is was out of theaters. It only made $700,000 at the box office. It’s as if the film was made for me. And stayed in the area just for me. And I’d like to believe that too.
So I got to visit the University of Oregon today. I got to see the shrines to these two men. I won’t lie. I cried in the museum dedicated to them on Haywood Field. I had to hide from the college kids watching the door. But what a lovely day for me. To think 25 years later, I finally got the chance to see the home of Pre and Bowerman. And in the words of the poet, it has made all the difference.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.