Written By Jered Holder
My name is Jered Holder. I’m 34, and I am a transplant to the El Paso area via points worldwide. Originally, I am from Arlington, TX and I grew up about a mile and a half from the Ballpark at Arlington and a quarter mile from where Cowboys stadium currently sits. I spent my middle school and high school years living in Cary, NC until I joined the Army, where I spent 10 years traveling the world for Uncle Sam.
In 2008 I ended my time with the military and decided shortly after to try my hand at two completely new adventures, parenthood and college. I am lucky enough to be called Dad by a couple of crazy kids, Diego, 12, and, Sabina, 3. They are a barrel of laughs, but sometimes I wonder which is harder, parenthood or the Army. The jury is still out. Currently, I am a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso (GO MINERS!), working towards my BS in Kinesiology, and soon (hopefully) a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. As a student, I have been fortunate enough to find a new passion; being a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Between college life and the fraternity, I’ve learned that it’s never too late to be young, even if you really aren’t.
El Paso is a great place to run. There is so much available to runners in terms of variety. I had a really hard time deciding where to run for this blog entry. There is Franklin Mountains State Park with tons of trails to be explored and McKelligon Canyon that has paved roads and almost no traffic. There is also Scenic Drive that takes you over the southern edge of the mountains. Then there’s Transmountain Road that is roughly 13 miles long and reaches an altitude of 5,280 feet (1 mile) at its highest point. A run through Billy Rogers Arroyo Park lets you do some trail running in desert setting. Ultimately, I picked the place I spend most of my time; the UTEP campus and the surrounding area. There are some really special things around my campus that I thought I might like to share with everyone else.
The Don Haskins center at UTEP is a really cool place in my book. It is named after Coach Don Haskins, who in 1966 during the height of the civil rights movement, decided to start 5 African-American players in the NCAA National Championship game against the number 1 ranked University of Kentucky. The cool thing about that is that it was the first time that that had ever been done in a NCAA championship and what is even cooler still is that Don Haskins was the first person to start 5 African-Americans in any major college game. The college in those days was called Texas Western College, and I had no clue about any of these things until I became a student. I really like that my school was a place that helped to pioneer racial desegregation in sports.
Bill Cahalan is a vocational rehabilitation counselor at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I wanted to thank him, 1, because he makes sure my school is paid for, and 2, because he always goes way beyond his scope of responsibility to make sure I am taken care of. A few times a year I stop in to see him for some business-related reason, but the visit inevitably turns into a pseudo man-to-man life evaluation and much-needed pep talk. He always remembers what’s going on with me despite very little face time, and when I have some sort of life emergency, he goes all out to help with what he can. I can’t really thank him enough when I get to see him, so I figured this might add a little more appreciation to the mix. He deserves a medal for what he does and who he is.
The “M” on the hill stands for “Mines”. Way back in 1914 when UTEP was born, it was called Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, which later changed to Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. Mines are a big thing at our school still. Our athletic teams are called Miners and our mascot, Paydirt Pete, is a miner. Even our hand gesture at athletic events is a miner’s pick axe. It looks similar to the Hawaiian shaka sign meaning “hang loose”. There are mine shafts still located around campus. They even used to detonate TNT on campus. I really like that the “M” is a constant reminder of the school’s heritage.
“Thanks Julie” is intended for Julie Holder, aka Mom. In the short time that I have been a parent I’ve realized that parenthood is a learn-as-you-go thing. I constantly wish that I had some sort of checklist that I could follow that would ensure that I am doing everything is the right thing to ensure the success of my progeny. Unfortunately, no such list exists and I often find myself wondering if I am messing it up. I think my mom still has that fear that she messed it up along the way, so I wanted to throw in an extra thanks to let her know she did just fine and that I can relate now. It’s not the wins and losses, but the effort that makes the difference Mom.
The Sun Bowl is an awesome stadium. The stadium was built in a literal bowl created by surrounding mountains. The stadium is just a really unique place to visit. I have been to college stadiums up and down the east coast, but in my mind, none compare. There are bigger and better stadiums, but I think the Sun Bowl is super-cool. I have great memories there, from watching my college beat my sister’s college (ECU), to homecoming games, to watching the Hyundai Sun Bowl game, which for some reason, the team I want to win always loses (I’m 0-2), to taking my daughter on the field at night and watching her run from one goal line to the other. I really like the Sun Bowl and it’s something that can’t be imitated.
Doug is my uncle, and also my surrogate dad. He may or may not know that, but that’s what he is to me. My father was killed by a drunk driver when I was 18, which for me was a time that saw the start of my quest to “become a man”. It was really hard for me to lose him, and I was really afraid that my growth in that regard would be stunted. So, I went off and joined the Army trying to find manhood on my own. The Army taught me a lot, but I believe my uncle taught me more without knowing it. Much of what he says and does guides what I do even today. Without knowing it he has provided a template of what a great man and father is and I try to shape myself in that image as much as possible. Most of our time spent together consists of small talk about cars, guns, and football, but it’s the unspoken and unsolicited lessons that I learn from him that make him great. I doubt that I thank him for that very often, so that’s why I decided to thank him now.
The big pick is actually a sculpture named “Mining Minds”. It was installed in 2010, so it’s a pretty recent addition to the school. Basically it’s a huge pick axe with head binary code 1s and 0s at the tips. Typically, it is lit inside and outside by orange lights, but on special events and holidays, the school lights it in blue and orange, our school colors. It’s pretty cool to see at nighttime.
Sabina is my 3 year old daughter. She is really funny, super-cute, incredibly hard-headed, and one tough cookie. Making it through college with a young child is a challenge at times, but at the end of the day she makes it all worth it. I can’t wait to see what she becomes later in life, because she is definitely a character right now. I wanted to thank her because she inspires to do more than I would of my own accord. She makes me strive for excellence in everything I do, because I know that my successes will be to her benefit in the long run. I think that that deserves some thanks, so I try to show her daily how thankful I am.
El Paso High School is cool for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s the oldest operating high school in El Paso with an opening year of 1916 at its current location. Secondly, it’s full of all kinds of interesting folklore. There are tunnels under the school and nobody knows exactly what they were used for. Some say they were used as Army hospitals during World Wars I and II, others say they were fallout shelters during World War II, still others say they were used as a morgue during a Spanish Flu epidemic, and lastly that they were used as a safety measure in response to the operations of Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. It is also supposedly haunted by a ghost. Mainly, it’s just a really beautiful old building.
Diego is my 12 year old son. As odd as it sounds, I have only known him for 4 years. I met his mother in 2008, and consequently him. When I first met him he was a little 7 year old kid who constantly used the word “imagine” and would come up with something very interesting and off the wall to put behind it. Now he is a 12 year old that is almost as tall as his mom and who fiercely protects his little sister, even though she tries to kick his butt on a daily basis. I wanted to thank him for giving me a chance to be a part of his life and for letting me be the guy that he calls dad.
Tom Lea Park is actually one of two parks in El Paso named after him, Tom Lea Upper and Tom Lea Lower. Tom Lea was a native El Pasoan and artist that was famous for paintings and murals, most of which involved life in the Southwest. The park is a really cool place because it looks out over the city and gives a great view of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico right across the border.
Helen Holder is my grandmother that is no longer with me. She passed away in 2006, and I miss her every day. She was a really stubborn woman who was hard to understand at times, but she also loved me with every bit of her heart. She was also my favorite cook. I miss her chicken and dumplings and salmon croquets to this day. She made sure I had everything I needed, and that I always knew I was loved. Thanks grandma. I miss you.
The Pizza Joint is a really cool locally owned business. The pizza slices are huge (basically ¼ of a large pizza) and the dough for the crust is homemade. The pepperoni rolls are insanely addictive. The wings are grilled, instead of fried and the 3 sauces are made in-house. Everything there has a taste that you can’t find anywhere else. The atmosphere is super laid-back too. The walls are covered with a blackboard material, and they leave chalk out so customers can share what’s on their minds on the walls. They take the money they get for any for recyclables donate it to local charities. They display artwork from local artists and have open mics on a monthly basis. All in all, it’s a great place to stop and grab quick bite, but it’s also a great place to go and kick back with friends if you just want to relax.
I decided to donate to Phi Delta Theta’s Iron Phi program. It’s a philanthropy that splits proceeds between the ALS association and the Phi Delta Theta Foundation. ALS research is my fraternity’s national philanthropy, but ALS research is also important to me because through giving to the ALS Association I found out that I am more likely to develop ALS than the general population due to serving in the Army in Iraq. As I get nearer to the age of onset for ALS, I feel it’s important to help fight something that might possibly affect me one day. The Phi Delta Theta Foundation helps members of my fraternity with scholarships, as well with other educational programs. I really like being able to lend a hand to my brothers, and donating to the foundation is just another way I can help out.