By Camaron Abundes
AUSTIN- Only the sixteen best divers in the State twist, tuck, and pike their way to the U.I.L. State Championships. Pecos Senior Hector Roman Jr. not only did all the right dives, he clawed his way back from a devastating injury following a car crash in early 2008.
"His question was not, will I live. His question was will I be able to dive," Pecos High School Diving Coach Joan Capshaw, said the teen accomplished his goals through sheer determination.
Roman crashed a van into a chain link fence after he dozed off January 31, 2008. He was impaled on the fence stuck inside the van. Crews used the jaws of life to cut more than 26 feet of the pipe trailing behind the teen in order to transport him by helicopter. The pole lodged just a half an inch from his heart.
"It would have been so easy to quit," Capshaw said.
Coach Capshaw along with Roman's family and teammates stayed at his bedside at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.
The teen would spend the next several months fighting to live normally. He went in for four surgeries.
"I didn't think diving would be a part of his routine anymore, because you could see the pipe through his chest," Hector Roman, Sr. said he tried to comfort his son at the accident.
The trauma took a toll on Roman's body and his training. Before the accident, Roman scored a school record for the 1 Meter Dive but after the accident he spent most of his time either in surgery and rehabilitation.
After months out of the water in September he started diving again. Roman gave up swimming, because it became too painful. He also wanted to focus on diving. Each dive remained painful and after a month of training his Doctor pulled him out of the water for more surgery.
"It was hard to get here. But I still have a big journey ahead of me," Roman said inside the Lee & Joe Jamail Swim Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Roman returned to the water in late November, but qualified for Regionals and eventually the State Championships.
"Sometimes a diver will say I can't do it, but Hector has never said, I can't do it. He is always willing to try," Coach Capshaw said energetically.
Roman placed 6th scoring First-Team All State.
"I wanted to go to State not just for myself, but also to show that anything is possible," Roman said.
It's not a fairy tale, the journey was never that easy, Roman just closes his eyes before each dive focused not on the pain or the crash, but what he is about to do next.