Paul Valencia: Football coach's golden rule: Keep walking

Commentary: Paul Valencia

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Assistant football coach Dale Rule always had a question for his players:

"Is the prize worth the price?"

In December 2009, Rule decided to answer his own question.

Tired of being obese, tired of relying on self-deprecating jokes about his appearance, and tired of just being tired, Rule made a change.

photoCamas assistant football coach Dale Rule in December 2009.
photoCamas assistant coach Dale Rule

"I was 38 years old and dying. I have three beautiful children and an amazing wife," Rule said. "I finally looked in the mirror and said I had to back up what I was saying. I needed to be an example for my children and the football players."

Is the prize worth the price? Definitely.

Rule, now the running backs coach at Camas, lost 140 pounds in one year, most coming off in a six-month stretch just from walking.

It took him 42 minutes to walk a mile that first day. Last fall, he walked 75 miles in a 24-hour walkathon. On the final week of this month, Rule's goal is to walk 84 miles in a walkathon that has turned into a Camas football project, as well.

John Norcross and Troy Patterson, as their senior projects, are running the second annual Everyone Walk 24-hour walk at Cardon Field on the campus of Camas High School on Sept. 29-30. Proceeds for the event, which also include a silent auction and raffle prizes, will go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Portland, childhood fitness and obesity awareness, and the football program.

"We're encouraging everybody to come out and walk a lap or a mile, or as much as they can," Norcross said. "Just to show your support."

Rule chose the M.S. Society as the event's charity because his wife, Lya, has the disease. It was with her that Rule walked that first slow mile.

Rule approached Patterson and Norcross with helping out this year. They all decided to also add childhood fitness and obesity awareness.

"We didn't think about it too long," Patterson said. "It sounded like a good senior project, stretching us out of our comfort zone, talking to a lot of people."

As organizers, the football players are getting the word out, lining up sponsors, and asking for donations -- either money or prizes to be auctioned or raffled. For more information regarding donations, go to everyonewalk.com.

As Rule had hoped, the players did take notice of his drive.

"I saw him when he was already working some of it off," Norcross said. "To see the pictures of how big he really was, that was amazing."

"Never give up," Patterson said. "Keep on walking."

For Rule, the first step was the first step. He has a picture of himself as a tourist at Alcatraz Island in December of 2009 when he weighed 363 pounds. It was then that he committed to losing weight. He started walking in February.

That 42-minute first mile changed his life.

"The most important thing is the next day, I went and walked again," Rule said.

From Feb. 10 to Aug. 10, 2010, he dropped 103 pounds. He did not starve himself. He watched his calories, and he learned to eat better foods that he still enjoyed. But no matter what he ate, he kept walking.

Then he got a little obsessive about the whole thing.

He has since walked a marathon.

He set a goal of taking 30,000 steps a day for 30 consecutive days.

"I had to keep myself motivated and have a new challenge," he said.

He went 72 consecutive days of at least 30,000 steps a day, walking on average 18 miles a day.

When he was traveling for work, he would walk at airports during layovers.

It was just a few years ago, as an assistant coach in Oregon, that Rule would jokingly boast to his players that he was the fattest receivers coach in the state.

Now he has a better story to tell his players.

"As coaches, we're put in such an amazing position to have an influence," Rule said.

He likes showing off his "after" photo, of him in front of all the shoes that he wore out in his trek.

Those shoes cost a lot of money.

The prize, his life, is worth it.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valenciacolumbian.com.