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The Front Row with MARK NELKE April 11, 2010

| April 11, 2010 9:00 PM

David Triplett had a chance to play football at Stanford.

But one flight north turned him into an Idaho Vandal and, nearly 50 years later, Triplett remains very much a Vandal.

"When you cut me, I bleed black and gold," said Triplett, who was among five people inducted into the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday night, part of the 48th annual North Idaho Sports Banquet at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn.

"I bleed black out of this (right) arm, gold out of this (left) arm," he said. "I absolutely loved being a Vandal."

And all it took was a little love and some encouraging words from some executives from Boise Cascade, who had provided the booster plane to the Vandals for Triplett's recruiting trip.

"I kind of wanted to be a forest ranger," recalled Triplett, who at age 65 still teaches fish and wildlife classes in the Boise area. "The draw of that forestry and the professionalism that was connected with the University of Idaho was a huge draw."

Triplett, who was also a standout wrestler at Pocatello High, had an offer to play football and wrestling at Idaho State. Utah State was also interested.

AT IDAHO, Triplett played offensive guard from 1962-66, starting his final two seasons, blocking for the likes of Ray McDonald. Triplett played for one coaching legend (Dee Andros) and served as a graduate assistant for another (Ed Troxel).

Andros was also the offensive line coach.

"They used to list me a couple inches taller, and 20 pounds heavier," Triplett said. "It didn't matter; I did not think there was anyone that could whip me, ever. He made us believe in ourselves, and the team. And I use his techniques today, the positive reinforcement, with my students in the class. With positive reinforcement, you can do great things."

Triplett turned down a chance to try out for the Dallas Cowboys to remain in Moscow and work on his masters in entomology.

As for Troxel, " he was a technician," Triplett said. "He had depth of knowledge, and depth of soul."

With his wife, Ann, hailing from Boise, Triplett wound up in the Treasure Valley after college, and coached at Capital High from 1968-75. He started out coaching football, wrestling and track, and started a boys gymnastics team.

The outgoing Triplett made an immediate impression at the gathering of current and incoming hall of famers on Friday night, chatting up friends as well as complete strangers during the social function prior to dinner.

"I'm a people person," he said.

HIS VICTORIES on the field, however, pale in comparison to his victories in life. Twice, he's whipped kidney cancer.

These days, he teaches at the Dennis Professional Technical Center, a magnet school which attracts students from all over the Treasure Valley.

He was at Bronco Stadium last December when the Vandals won the Humanitarian Bowl. He couldn't have been more excited for his alma mater - unless, of course, he was still playing.

"The people that support Idaho, they support the university," Triplett said. "I played for the University of Idaho, I didn't play for the University of Idaho football team. The loyalty of a good school, what they represent ... that feeling of oneness is a huge difference being a Vandal fan."

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at mnelke@cdapress.com.

Triplett turned down a chance to try out for the Dallas Cowboys to remain in Moscow and work on his masters in entomology.

As for Troxel, " he was a technician," Triplett said. "He had depth of knowledge, and depth of soul."

With his wife, Ann, hailing from Boise, Triplett wound up in the Treasure Valley after college, and coached at Capital High from 1968-75. He started out coaching football, wrestling and track, and started a boys gymnastics team.

The outgoing Triplett made an immediate impression at the gathering of current and incoming hall of famers on Friday night, chatting up friends as well as complete strangers during the social function prior to dinner.

"I'm a people person," he said.

HIS VICTORIES on the field, however, pale in comparison to his victories in life. Twice, he's whipped kidney cancer.

These days, he teaches at the Dennis Professional Technical Center, a magnet school which attracts students from all over the Treasure Valley.

He was at Bronco Stadium last December when the Vandals won the Humanitarian Bowl. He couldn't have been more excited for his alma mater - unless, of course, he was still playing.

"The people that support Idaho, they support the university," Triplett said. "I played for the University of Idaho, I didn't play for the University of Idaho football team. The loyalty of a good school, what they represent ... that feeling of oneness is a huge difference being a Vandal fan."

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at mnelke@cdapress.com.

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