FORT WORTH (CBS11) – Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth is resurrecting it’s football program this fall– and with it the pigskin dreams of an unlikely player.
“Spanky, Dad, Grandpa,” I get it all, says Jason Spangler. The TWU player answers to many names, wears many hats– one of them is a football helmet. At 50.
“I had an epiphany,” says Spangler, snapping his fingers, “and decided that things had to change.”
Spangler, who also runs a roofing company, says a number of factors led him to pursue his dream of playing college football.
“I had two friends die last year from cancer, in their early 40s, and they weren’t able to live their full potential out.” So Spangler decided that he didn’t want to live a ‘shoulda/coulda’ sort of life.
“I want to prove to people my age that are just existing in life–going to work, coming home, going to work, coming home–my message to them is you can do something greater.”
He’d heard that TWU was bringing back its football program after a 76-year hiatus. So Spangler emailed TWU football coach Joe Prud’homme.
“I said, `I am a 49-year-old very athletic man. I’d like to try out for your team’, and I said `when you’re done laughing, you can respond’,” recalls Spangler. Prud’homme doesn’t say whether he laughed. But, he did listen.
“He just said, ‘I really want to see if I can do it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try. I was like, sure, I’ll give you shot,” says Prud’homme.
Spangler doesn’t start. In fact, he’s yet to play a down. But, a 50 hear old suited out on the sidelines certainly stands out.
“I was like ‘whoa– you’re a player?’ says teammate Nicholas Lathan with a laugh, with Isaiah Williams adding that “he competes… he’s gonna come down and hit you.”
It is a dream realized for Spangler. But, making it all work has been a scheduling nightmare.
“I’m pulling 100 hour weeks right now,” says Spanger, who insists that he hasn’t sat on a sofa since he enrolled in TWU last fall for the spring semester. “It’s Monday, 7 days a week, I do not have off time.”
And yes, he has gotten banged up. He even broke a rib. But, Spangler insists that he’s having the time of his life. Now, if he can just get a chance to play!
“God, I hope so! This is my journey,” says Spangler. And his testimony is simply this: “don’t settle.”