Coach Dunham’s memoir revisits past struggles

Sophie Reeves

Quarantine has posed insurmountable challenges for some. But for Wilson PE teacher and coach Desmond Dunham, it has provided the chance to finally write the book he had been thinking about for years.

Writing a book is no small feat, but the pandemic gave him the ability to finally tell his story. “Six or seven years ago, I mentioned to my wife that I really wanted to write a book,” Coach Dunham said. “When COVID hit, I realized we were going to be in it for the long haul. Within three weeks, I started the project of writing the book.”

The book, titled “Running Against the Odds,” tells the story of his turbulent childhood and how his connection to sports, his teams, and his community have helped him through challenges. 

“Running Against the Odds” is scheduled to come out in late August or early September. With presale earnings, Dunham plans on bolstering his Full Count Male Mentorship Program, an initiative to uplift males of color at Wilson.

The book will start out as a paperback. Eventually, a hardcover version will be available, along with audiobook and Spanish versions, so that the book can be accessible to more students.

Dunham explained that the book is split up into three different sections. The first section centers around his family and his childhood. “My dad was a Vietnam veteran,” he said. “He suffered from post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, the hero he was for our country backfired on our family.”

The second and third are about his adolescence and manhood: the instability and challenges but also how running helped him. Or more specifically how connecting with himself, his past, and even his students shaped him. 

The book is a memoir, but written with the purpose of empowering young people with big dreams, whether they are athletes or not. It’s for anyone who feels like they are still searching for their passion in life, and anyone who is an underdog.  

Dunham mentioned that in his time as a teacher, coach, and entrepreneur, he has been able to use his past struggles to motivate others to persevere through their obstacles. He wants to relay the message that no one should give up; that there are many more life lessons to learn through sports than just the value of winning.

“No matter what you go through, take advantage of any and every resource to help you,” Dunham said. “Write your own story for yourself.”

Revisiting his past to write his memoir came with some difficulty. “It initially made for some tough conversations,” Dunham said, reflecting on the discussions he had with his family while writing. “But at the end of it, it really pulled us together even more.” 

Dunham’s writing process has reconnected him with some family members, past track teammates, and students. His new book aims to shed light on his experiences, and inspire everyone who reads it. 

Make sure to look out for the sales of “Running Against the Odds.”