Saturday, July 21, 2012

David Vince Interview with Mary Nichelson

All authors have an intent and purpose in writing their book. Perhaps the goal is to entertain, or motivate, encourage or inspire. For David Vince, author of the upcoming release When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging, the objective is heartfelt and authentic. “I hope my story can encourage others who may be facing difficult or trying times in their lives so that they, too, can overcome adversity with proper attitude, faith and determination.” 

If anyone is qualified to write about proper attitude and determination, it is Vince. While a double amputee, he has enjoyed a successful coaching career for many sports, with both men and women. However, his life coaching skills are just as noteworthy and influential off the court and field as his leadership proficiency was during play. Vince writes from raw experience, prompting former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden to speak for many readers when he says“Read this book and be better prepared for what you will face in life.”

MN- I noticed that over 40 copies of your book were purchased by the Moss Bluff Lions Club to be donated to all Veteran's Hospitals and outpatient clinics in Louisiana. Obviously they see a beneficial message in your book for Veterans. What do you hope these particular readers take away from your book?

DV- I wanted to reach out to Veterans because many of them have disabilities or loss of limbs. I have a heart for other amputees. I want my story to encourage others that even if a person is disabled or has experienced an amputation ,that they can still live an active happy life in spite of it. Never give up, don't listen to the naysayers. I was told I'd never walk without crutches.I put the crutches down at age 8. I was told I'd never have children. I have 3. I also included a patriotic chapter from my overseas travels in the book that Veterans especially can relate to. We take so much for granted in this country. Anybody who's ever traveled out of the country recognizes how blessed we are to live in the U.S. and will come back home with a better appreciation for the U.S.

MN- Let's talk about your book, When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging. Coaching was a dream come true for you-something you feared a lack of experience and being a double amputee might prevent. Why did you continue to pursue it in spite of your limitations?

DV- As a child, I had parents and grandparents that never let me use the word "cant" until I had first "tried "and failed. They never let me use my handicap as an excuse. I accepted Christ at the age of 8 and discovered the scripture verse Philippians 4:13  " I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me". This gave me confidence and enabled me to have tremendous faith that I could accomplish my dreams with God's help. I also loved the Robert Frost poem I read in high school, The Road Less Traveled. Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the road less traveled. Certainly becoming an athletic coach despite being a double amputee could be considered taking "the road less traveled"

MN- You remind me of the popular little person, Matt Roloff. You both have this huge appetite for life and bring dreams into reality although physical challenges could have limited you in many areas. What do you attribute your passion for life to?

DV- Proving naysayers wrong became my motivation. I developed a mantra "Vince's are Tough" . I have passed that mantra along to my children, especially my daughter Sierra who is also a double amputee.  It's like most children, as soon as you tell them don't or cant do something, that's the very thing they become determined to do. Early in my coaching career I came up a with a slogan :  3 D's  Desire, Determination, and Dedication Keys to Success. That aptly describes me. I had the passion or desire to succeed, the determination to keep trying even if I experienced failure along the way, and the dedication to read ,study, attend clinics, talk with championship coaches, and be a sponge to learn how to teach the game and overcome the fact that I'd never played the game by being a student of the game.

MN- In the book, you share a touching story involving your daughter, Sierra. When she was born prematurely and with deformities, you admit that you felt a tremendous amount of guilt and blamed yourself for her problems. You also admitted that your faith allowed you to see the situation in a larger context. Parental guilt can be paralyzing with or without faith, but at least a manageable, temporary paralysis when you practice a lifestyle of faith. What advice do you have for readers going through parental guilt-or any guilt for that matter-right now?

DV- Many times we are harder on ourselves than others are on us. Sierra has been so accepting. She is a Daddy's girl. I did experience guilt and anguish at first because I was told I carry a defective gene. We didn't know that until after she was born. After the initial guilt and shame, God showed me and I came to the realization that who better to be a role model for her than someone who has already experienced much of what she will be facing in life. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. God promises however, that He never gives us more than we can handle with His help. If we've made mistakes in the past, all we can do is ask God's forgiveness, and start anew today. We have to get rid of the emotional bitterness of the past and embrace the future beginning from this day forward.

MN- Your life verses are Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:13. Why are they so important to you and how do they motivate you?

DV- Romans 8:28  "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose". This verse eliminated my pity party. To me it doesn't mean that everything that happens to me in my life time is going to be good but it means that God can and will bring good out of bad situations. My family has experienced tremendous adversity  so I can personally testify that everything that happens to a person is not always good. Instead of griping and complaining about my circumstances, I took the approach of adapting to my situation and trusting God to bring about the good even when we don't understand why certain things are happening to us.

Philippians 4:13, as mentioned earlier, gave me the confidence and courage that with God's help I could be a successful coach. This verse along with strong encouragement from family emboldened me to "try". I also memorized the old quote," It's better to have tried and failed than to have never have tried at all"

MN- I love your closing chapter titled "Retirement Reflections". It was interesting to read your narrative on having a child later in life, leaving coaching to become a stay at home Dad, and the accompanying emotions. How has retirement been for you so far?

DV- I retired from coaching in 2010, 30 wins shy of 500 career wins.Attaining 500 wins was a very important goal that I personally wanted to achieve.Before I learned that my wife was pregnant with our third child, I had in my mind what I thought was a reasonable 5 year plan. I would retire in 5 years, ( It would have probably only taken two more years to reach the 500 win plateau), 5 more years would give me 34 years in the profession, and my uniform number I wore was 34, so that would be a Cinderella story. However, Scripture clearly tells us our ways are not always His ways. At age 50 and my wife at age 47, we had our third child. I guess God has a sense of humor. I decided to retire at the end of the 2010 season. At the time, I thought I was going to sorely miss coaching because I still had the passion to continue coaching. However, I was very surprised that I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I got involved with the Gideon International ministry which raises funds and distributes bibles in hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and prisons. I also got involved with the local Lion's Club which aids handicapped children. Retirement also gave me the time to write the book.The purpose of the book is to inspire, encourage, and motivate others. These activities along with being a stay at home Dad with a two year old has taken the place and filled the void vacated by my coaching career. I'm also taking advantage of speaking engagements every chance I get to share more story

MN- We all have the potential to coach each other, in one sense of the word or another. How do we recognize those opportunities of influence and mentor others in a way that is helpful and not hurtful?

DV- Regardless of how tough we have it or how bad we believe our personal situation is, we don't have to look very far to find some one that is worse off than we are. It's important to keep the proper perspective and attitude. Nothing is too big for God to handle. Sometimes we lose sight of that. God has our back and because of that we can be a positive example to others just by how we handle our adversity. It's not what happens to us but how we react to it that's important. If we can respond in calm way demonstrating our faith and trust in a God that is in control even in the most trying and difficult circumstances, we can minister to others. It can be as simple as sharing your own personal circumstances and sharing how God was there the whole time and brought you thru it. Maybe it's making a visit, or a phone call, or sending a card. It's important for Christians to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit will guide you how to and when to minister to others and in what specific way.If we take advantage of our opportunities, not only are we being a blessing to others, but many times we too are blessed because we were sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit and made ourselves available.

Author Bio- David is the author of the forthcoming book,When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging. He is an inspirational speaker with a truly unique story of overcoming hardship, living life to the fullest and motivating young men and women to achieve their full potential in sports and in life. As a baseball coach in the collegiate and high school ranks for 29 years, David earned 470 victories – despite the fact that he walks on two prosthetic legs and never played the game of baseball himself. David also coached as an assistant football coach for eight years, girls weightlifting for seven years, girls basketball three years and boys cross country for three years. He is a former head coach of Campbellsville University in Kentucky, where he led the team to a Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in 1987 — the first baseball conference championship in the history of the school. David has had 10 district champion teams, eight district runner-up teams, two state final four teams, and one state runner-up team. He was a 10-time coach of the year recipient in various divisions. He has also coached baseball in Holland, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Curacao, and Hawaii. David has worked as an associate scout for the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays.

David, who recently retired from coaching, lives in Louisiana with his wife, Susan, and their three children.

To learn more about author David Vince and to order your copy of his book, visit his website at

About Mary Nichelson:

Other interviews in The Wordsmith Journal this month: William D. Burt, Rodney Hennigan & Bryan Liftin.

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

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