Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zach Langford presents his retiring address, "All In"

Zach Langford, State FFA Sentinel, from the Buhler FFA Chapter, presented his retiring address at the Third Session of the 82nd Kansas FFA Convention

It is the bottom of the 9th the game is tied there are two outs and a runner on third. The pitcher starts his wind up as the crowd comes to their feet with a roar that echoes throughout the stadium. The runner is attempting to steal home. With every step the ball gets closer and closer to the plate the ball hits the catcher’s mitt, the runner slides head first, the tag and…..………………. SAFE! Stealing Home is baseball’s most risky play, taking off from third and trying to beat a ball traveling over 85 miles per hour to home plate. This is playing baseball on the edge going all-in, knowing you will be called out or safe. Possibly winning or losing the game. When you live all-in you do not leave any stones unturned, you leave your fears behind, you charge ahead and do not look back. In order to live life all-in, we must first find our passions, be prepared to stand up again, and be willing to take risks.

Joining marching band my freshmen year of high school, I was not sure of what lay ahead of me. The first day of band camp came and we met Mr. Stambaugh our band director. At first he seemed like a calm individual but he was far from that. The moment we stepped on the field the tone in his voice changed and the energy he brought was astounding. He continually pushed us to be better musicians. At the same time he made us better individuals, teaching us life lessons, while instilling the passion of music within us. The energy in his voice and the power of his actions transferred straight to our band, motivating us to work harder and give 110 % on and off the field. Without his time and devotion our band would not have been developed into one of the best in the state. After my first year I was hooked on band, some people would call me a “band geek.” This is all thanks to a man, a man who found his passion for band and shared it not only to his own band but to the world.

Passion comes before motivation and way before action. A German Historian once said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” But what is passion? Everyone has it, it comes from within! Passion is very personal and unique to each individual. Our strongest passions are often internalized and rarely expressed outwardly. Why is this? Why is it what we love the most, what we are most passionate about we keep within? Have you seen someone with passion…… what did you notice? A change in their voice, a sparkle in their eye, an action they took. Passion is contagious! Passion makes a difference! What is your passion? No one can walk up and tell us what we cannot be passionate about; we have to find that for ourselves. . Most people know that my passions lie within baseball, FFA, the outdoors, and agriculture. Is your passion playing a sport? What about one of the many CDE’s? Do you enjoy serving others? Chapter office is right in front of you! Is your passion being engaged in production Agriculture? Several classmates found their passion in our country and are now serving in the military throughout the world. But, first things first we must find our passion. Life throws curveballs at us, as well as an occasional fastball that hits us and knocks us down. When that time comes we have to be prepared to step back up to the plate and get ready for the next pitch.

Ballroom, Salsa, Hip-Hip, Tap, West coast, East coast, Western, Swing just to name a few types of dances. My favorite is swing. Swing dancing has become another one of my passions. As the hobby of swing dancing increased in time, my skill also increased; as skill increased I began looking for new more challenging moves that. Flips, tosses, and throws better known as aerials became regular moves. This past fall while attending a conference I found out there would be a dance the following night. After attending sessions throughout the day the time had finally came to put on my dancing boots and hit the floor. While swing dancing with a girl we started talking about flips; she said she had been flipped before, so we went for it on the next song. Reaching down to flip her, I grabbed her legs and threw them over my pivot arm just like normal. However, when I threw her she did not tuck her legs and I paid for it, receiving a knee straight to the nose. Anyone who has been hit with any force in the nose, knows exactly the pain I was feeling at this point. Falling backwards, I looked down to see my shirt already covered in blood. Embarrassed, I took off running to the bathroom. Numerous people came in to ask how I was doing I said I will be fine; it is just a nose bleed. When really I was more worried about my pride then my nose. I went back up to my room changed shirts and sat on the bed for awhile. Part of me wanted to go back and dance, while the other part told me I was crazy. Thoughts were racing through my head, what was everyone saying, what would happen if I walked back in? No girl would want to dance with me the rest of the night. Everyone would laugh at me. Finally deciding to go back and dance regardless of my shattered pride and my nose. Walking back into the room I had this feeling that everyone was staring at me when they really were not. I mustered up the strength to ask a girl to dance and everything went fine. By the end of the night I was back to normal well almost there was definitely no more flipping.

Standing back up, facing your fears, and dancing. I almost let my fear of what others were going to say or think keep me from going back and dancing and doing what I was so passionate about. Sometimes in life we follow our passion and almost always someone will knee us in the nose and knock us down. That is when we have to stand up, change shirts, stand toe to toe with our biggest fear, and start dancing again. The fear of failure hinders many of us on a daily basis, but in life we are going to fail. No one can go through life and live life perfect. All of us will slip up every once in awhile and sometimes it will seem like the whole world is against us. We have all experienced some form of fear, of failing again. It stops some of us from even trying, while others try half-heartedly, undermining their own success. The fear of losing, fear of what others might think, or maybe just the fear of the dark, keep us from reaching our ultimate goals or following our passions. Joe Sugarman, an innovator in marketing says, “If you are willing to accept failure and learn from it, if you are willing to consider failure as a blessing in disguise and bounce back, you have got the potential of harnessing one of the most powerful success forces.” We are not always going to get first, but we should always strive to learn more each time we compete whether it be a CDE, a scholarship application or a job interview. We will not get 100% on every test and every assignment, when we make mistakes we should learn from them and move on. The difference between the people who succeed in life and the ones who do not is not found in the number of times they fail. It is found in what they do after they fail. Just like the baseball player who stole home risked, we all risk every day, some of us more than others.

It is estimated nearly 42 million Americans have taken the ultimate risk, serving in a time of war. Over 700,000 of American Soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving up there life for our country. Every May more than 350,000 Americans on motorcycles, mostly veterans, participate in the Run for the Wall in Washington D.C.! Their mission is the healing among all veterans and their families and friends: calling for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action: and honoring the memory of those Killed in Action from all wars. Those involved take two separate routes a southern route and a central route. The central route runs through Kansas on I-70. They ride across the United States making stops at Memorials, Veteran's Hospitals, and schools. Witnessing this act sent chills down my back and made me realize what the men and women of our armed forces risk. Those riding to the wall risk so much to ride for those that cannot. They leave their homes and their families to ride across the country into the unknown. Leaving their jobs and spending their own money to honor our fallen heroes. Leaving what is safe and comforting to serve someone else. Many of them have done it before as soldiers. Leaving everything that they know, everything they have ever had, to serve our country so we can be free and gather here today.

Risk happens in all shapes, sizes, and forms. It can occur in the smallest of ways like when we decide to get out of bed or in the largest of ways, like the men and woman risking their lives fighting for our country. We have countless opportunities to risk each day, by building, creating, connecting, or just showing someone we care. Some of us choose to play it safe and miss out. You will miss 100% of the shots you never take. I heard this religiously throughout my senior year in ag class. Anytime we got on the topic of filling out scholarships Mr. Clark would end by saying that quote and we cannot win a scholarship we do not apply for. He was right! No applications, no scholarships! How are we ever going to win a proficiency award, a district or state CDE, a national chapter award, or a WLC scholarship if we never apply for them? How are we supposed to get good grades, an A on a test, or A+ on the paper, if we do not turn it in? How do we get a job we do not apply for? You miss 100% of the shots you never take! So go ahead take a risk! Apply for that proficiency award, compete in that CDE, turn in that paper, and apply for that job. Do not lay in bed at night and think if I would have done that, I could have done this, I should have been that. Would of, could of and should of’s are just excuses, excuses to hide behind. Live life with risk, wake up in the morning and get out of bed. Put on a smile and risk boldly.

The next time you are standing on third with the game on the line risk everything and steal home. When you live all-in you live each moment as if it were your last, every second counts because there is no second chance. Search for your passion, find it, harness it, and use it to the best of your abilities. When life knocks you down, stand back up and get ready for your next pitch. Risk everything on a daily basis because life is a gift not a given right. Remember it is never too late to steal home. You are there, standing on third in the bottom of the ninth! The game is tied with two outs! You are willing to put it all on the line, you have found your passion, you have stood back up and now you are going to risk everything! You are ready to steal home! Kansas FFA Live All-In!

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