PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Growing up between Mississippi and Watts in South Central Los Angeles, Fernando Fantroy has seen a lot.

For the past few decades, he’s been prescribing the remedy on the track.

“Success is never final, failure is not fatal,” Fantroy said.

Good painting takes patience and practice.

“Everybody can paint, but everybody is not a professional painter,” Fantroy said.

So, too, does good hurdling.

“For some reason, I am gifted with the eye. That’s what it is. It’s just a gift,” he said.

Fantroy, 63, has been employed full-time by Portland Parks & Recreation as lead painter for professional repair and maintenance services.

“I leave at 3 and as I’m leaving, I’m putting my coaching hat on. Got the paint coveralls off,” he said.

Painting has been the day gig for the past 40 years.

“Either I was going to work at McDonalds for $1.75 an hour or painting for $10, in 1975 that was a lot of money so I chose painting,” Fantroy said.

The fun gig is serving as co-head track coach at Mt. Hood Community College for the past five years.

“Junior college, we are a development program,” he said.

Fantroy is more than just a JC coach.

“They call me ‘The Hurdle Doctor’ and if you feel like you don’t need him, you don't go to him but people that need some assistance they’ll come to the doctor, right?” he said.

“The Hurdle Doctor” is also a personal coach for The Furnace Athletic Academy, working with the likes on this day, in an Oregon summer mist, with gold medal-winning deaf Olympian Janna Vander Meulen.

“He’s a very patient person with me, especially I am his first deaf athlete. He always says it was an eye-opening experience,” Vander Meulen said.

Fantroy said, “A deaf athlete? I don't know American Sign Language, that would be interesting. But me, I am one of those guys, I’ll take a challenge.”

The Western Oregon grad is the fastest deaf female in U.S. history.

“If I get frustrated, he says, ‘It’s OK, keep going, don’t give up, it’s just today, tomorrow is a new day,’” Vander Meulen said.

Also coming for the motivational cure from The Hurdle Doctor? Damascus Christian High track coach and Gresham grad Mandie Maddux as she strives to make the 2024 Australian Olympic squad.

“Just his coaching style really works with me,” said Maddux. “I’ve had bad coaches and it’s never fun.”

The holidays are always fun at Grandpa Hurdle Doctor’s house. He has 16 grandkids, and grandbaby No. 17 arrives real soon. 

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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