USASJ Story Project 31-DEC-2014 DON WEST

1 Comment

    Your story about Don will ring a lot of bells for many ski jumpers. You were indeed among the many fortunate ski jumpers who were at some point in time “indoctrinated” by Don on and/or off the hills. Don had an incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time for all of us. See my note to Don below for another piece of such evidence. I’ll have to add that this is only one more example of the kind bearded gentlemen’s many, many gifts of gentle assistance he gave to me and other ski jumpers during our ski jumping careers. While memories of Don’s gifts to us all warm my heart, my warm heart becomes very heavy and brings tears to my eyes because of our recent loss of Don. The many “little” things Don did in such a gracious manner were all great things. We may not have known how great those things were when he did them, but we certainly do now.

    Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 3:29 PM
    To: Don West
    Subject: Thinking About Good Things

    This morning I celebrated how blessed I have been to have many great colleagues and mentors. You are a member of both groups.

    I’ll not forget my first ride on the 70 meter at Lake Placid… scared to the point that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to take the ride, scared to the point that I could not focus upon what I had to do in order to prepare myself to put my skis on, a very nice bearded gentleman with a big smile and gentle voice informed me in a very positive manner that it was my turn. I recall deferring, stating that I wasn’t in a hurry. The kind gentleman informed me that I should take a ride. He also stated that standing at the top of the hill wasn’t the best place to contemplate whether I was prepared. He assured me that I was, smiled, patted me on my shoulder and said, “Have a good one! You’re ready.” To this day I cannot articulate the confidence that provided to me. The gentleman believed in me… I then believed in myself. The ride was exhilarating and fun. At the bottom of the hill, I watched the next few jumpers. The gentleman took his jump, skied over to me with a big smile and asked me how I enjoyed my jump. I was relatively speechless, but I knew that he had gotten me over an obstacle that I could not hurdle by myself at that point in time.

    The gentleman and the many lessons he taught me… about myself and other people… have been a large part of my life and it’s improvement. I’m a better person for my friendship with you. Thank you so much for all you do for the ski jumping community and folks like me.

    Many thanks,

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