Donald Templeton is not an ordinary high school student. He is a junior at McLain High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he plays football as a defensive lineman for the Titans. But what makes him stand out from his peers is his shoe size: he wears a size 23, which is about 14.5 inches or 36.8 cm in foot length.
- How a football coach went above and beyond to help his student-athlete who had a rare and expensive shoe size.
- The challenges and opportunities that people with uncommon physical traits face in their daily lives and sports careers.
- It demonstrates the power of collaboration and generosity among different organizations and individuals who came together to support a young man’s dreams and needs.
- It inspires the readers to appreciate their own abilities and resources, and to help others who might be less fortunate or more disadvantaged.
Finding shoes that fit him has always been a challenge for Templeton, who said he started wearing men’s shoes when he was in kindergarten. He only had one pair of shoes until recently, when his football coach, Willie Ponder, decided to help him out.
Ponder, who has been coaching at McLain for four years, noticed that Templeton was wearing shoes that were too small and uncomfortable for him. He also realized how difficult and expensive it was to get a size 23 shoe, which is not available in most stores or online. He said he wanted to do something for Templeton, who he described as a hard-working and respectful young man.
“I just felt like he deserved better,” Ponder said. “He’s a great kid, he’s always positive, he’s always smiling, he’s always trying to improve himself and his team.”
Ponder contacted Tulsa Public Schools and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who then reached out to Under Armour, a sports equipment company that specializes in innovative products for athletes. Under Armour agreed to customize a cleat for Templeton, which they delivered to him last week. Templeton said he was overjoyed when he received his new shoes, which he said fit him perfectly and felt comfortable.
“It was amazing, I was speechless,” Templeton said. “I was so happy and grateful. I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Templeton said his new shoes have boosted his confidence and performance on the field, where he hopes to impress college scouts and fulfill his dream of playing for the University of Oklahoma someday. He said he loves football and wants to pursue it as a career.
“Football is my passion, it’s my escape, it’s my everything,” Templeton said. “I want to play for OU because they have a great program and a great history. I want to be part of that legacy.”
But Templeton’s shoe needs are not limited to football. He also needs dress shoes, casual shoes, and collared shirts for school and other occasions. Ponder said he is trying to raise money to buy those items for Templeton, as well as for other students who might need them. He said he wants to help Templeton and his family, who he said are going through some financial difficulties.
“I want to make sure he has everything he needs to succeed in life, not just in football,” Ponder said. “He’s a smart kid, he has a bright future ahead of him. He just needs some support and guidance.”
Ponder said he has set up a GoFundMe page for Templeton, where people can donate money to help him buy shoes and clothes. He said he hopes to raise at least $5,000, which he said would cover the cost of four pairs of shoes and 10 shirts. He said he has already received some donations from generous people, but he still needs more to reach his goal.
“I’m asking the community to help me help this young man,” Ponder said. “He deserves it. He’s a Titan, and Titans take care of each other.”
Anyone who wants to donate to Templeton’s fund can visit the GoFundMe page here: [Help Donald get shoes].