(Editor’s Note: Thanks to David Espinoza for contributing to WOHM. You can find him at www.DavidEspi.com.)

The hurdles have to be one of the toughest events in track and field—to excel takes a combination of excellent technique and speed.

Daniel Brattain, son of Rob and Rhonda, is a serious—but polite—sophomore at McNary High School. He stands at 6’1” and is race-horse slender. Last year he placed second in the 6A CVC District Meet, he advanced to the state meet as a freshman, and he placed 9th out of 50 hurdlers and 10th in the Decathlon at the USA Jr. Olympic Meet. His personal best time in the 110 Meter High Hurdles is 14.91; in the 300 Meter Hurdles, 40.2. That’s screaming fast for a sophomore. McNary’s School record in the 110 Hurdles is 14.6 seconds.

He learned a tough lesson last year at the national meet. During the prelims, he planned to just do enough to qualify for the finals in order to conserve his energy for the final race. Unfortunately they took the 8 best times out of all the heats, and he had the 9th best.

Daniel is determined to get better by practicing beyond what’s expected. The young man says, “I don’t believe I have to be better than anyone else, but better than I thought I could ever be.”

He is also involved with Young Life – a Christian-based organization. He volunteers for community events, has done some emergency-response-type training and studies hard to keep his grades up.

His dad served in the military—including time in Dessert Storm and the most recent war in Iraq—and is extremely proud of Daniel. He said, “He has always been full of energy. We used to call him the energizer bunny.”

What inspired you to start practicing hurdles?

Daniel: When I was little my friends and I played a lot of running-type games. I somehow became faster by always wanting to win. When I got to the sixth grade I was running a hurdle race against Justin Burgess, an eighth grader that I admired because of his athleticism. During that race, Justin and I were dead even. He helped me tie the school record. It was then that I started noticing how good I really was at the hurdles. I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but just being honest. After that moment I’ve been practicing hard to be the best I can be. Mrs Biamont, a P.E. teacher at Whiteaker Middle School, started showing me the basic hurdle technique.

What goes through your mind when getting ready to run a hurdle race?

Most competitors get nervous right before the race. Me, I get nervous the night before. I try to visualize my explosive take off – attacking each hurdle with aggression and seeing myself win at the end. That seems to help me relax a bit. During the actual race, I’m at the starting line with my hands down waiting for the gun to sound. I take a deep breath and hold it in until the gun sounds –bang! I breathe out and take off. That helps me attack the first hurdle with strong velocity. As I run over each hurdle I focus on one object past the finish line.

How has your mom, Rhonda, been supportive?  

My mom takes me everywhere, buys me what I need, and looks up all kinds of stuff for me to do that’s productive. She puts things that are of great importance first, not just for us kids, but for whatever team I might be on as well. If my grades start to fall, she won’t let me do the things I love until they have come up. She takes care of all her kids: Me, Michael, Charlotte, and James. She’s also heavily involved with McNary’s Booster Club – trying to make it a better club to benefit the Keizer sports programs.

What is your favorite subject in school? And include your GPA. 

It used to be Math, but it’s gotten too hard these days. I’m starting to enjoy the mechanical stuff. Someday I would love to work on jet engines in the Air Force, and when I get old I want to use my knowledge to maybe work for my dad’s company (Brattain International Trucking). My GPA is 3.8.

What are your future plans, do you have a goal in mind?

I would love to attend the Air Force Academy. It’s like West Point (Army). I would love to play football (cornerback) and be a member of their track team. Some people might not know this about me, but I love the country. While I’m working in Oregon, I want to slowly build a home in Florida, where my Grandpa lives. He is someone I am very close to – he means the world to me. Growing up he would spend time with me – we’d do all kinds of things together. During Spring Break I went to see him because he’s having medical issues. Mom is there currently – helping him out. I want to move to Florida someday when I’m old. By then my house should be completed. I think I’m destined to be there – it’s in my heart.