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Friday, June 1, 2012

Cole Smith delivers state sentinel's retiring address


“Cowboy Up”
Straight out of chute number 5 is handsome young cowboy aboard that side winding outlaw they call Goose.  Look at that horse blow outa there he’s sunfishing like a perch on a hot summer day.  But that young bronc peelerhe’s carving his name into that grey monster…one jump two jumps he’s got him he’s got him.  Oh no ladies and gentleman he’s just been planted like a seed. 
                Stop,lets hit the rewind button on that tape and discover what actually happened.  That young man was all around champion broncrider; he has not seen the inside of a bucking chute since freshman year of high school. He and his colt Goose were not in a rodeo that day.  They were loping figure eights and Goose began to act up and misbehave, and that young vaquero went about trying to teach Goose just how he thought young horses are supposed to behave.  This inevitably led to said cowhand riding about eight jumps, sailing through the air and leaving a crater in the arena dirt.   Immediately he calls his mentor Luke, and after hearing an earful about just how intelligent Luke thought this young man was he simply ended his advice with “Just cowboy up and get back on”
“Cowboy Up” means persevering through any situation life throws at you.Anybody can cowboy up when the situation calls for it, it only takes a strong courage and positive attitude to get back up.   Growing up I always dreamed of one day, becoming a top hand cowboy and bull rider, mutton busting at age five and after riding what had to be the rankest sheep in Rooks County won my first trophy.  Needless to say I did notbecome the next Justin McBride,but I did learn valuable lessons in my transition from rodeo cowboy hopeful to ranch hand and future FFA member
                We all know that one distinct “cowboy kid” in our class.  The obnoxious little sixth grader who had to change out of boots before P.E.,the one who always showed their classmates “harmless” rope tricks,or who disappears after a few weeks of summer weights because it is “colt breaking season.”
There are two truths I discovered as I grew older.  1) I really do fit that stereotype, and 2) We don’t need to wear wrangler jeans and win shiny belt buckles to cowboy up.  #whatwe need is right here#.  All we truly need to cowboy up and persevere is right inside ofus.
                A true testament to this is someone who we would all look up to.   Someone who, even when most people look at them and expect them to just be average, always goes above and beyond what is expected of them.  Whether they are more sincere and genuine, or they work four times harder, this kind of individual is always on the top or our role model list.Marcus does it all, besides constantly showing me up playing PlayStation, he is better than most people I know at math, he was on the golf team in high school, and has a job.  Now just like everyone on this campus he is attending college.  Marcus is Autistic.  He has never entered a rodeo.  No cowboy background whatsoever and yet he truly has Cowboyed Up.  Even though people have talked down to him, Marcus overcame, dusted himself off and succeeded.
That is what it takes; it takes us and a passion to succeed burning within ourselves.  Marcus has that, proving anybody can cowboy up. If anybody can persevere and overcome why let anything stand in our way, why let a problem overcome us? Each and every person in this auditorium is capable of overcoming any hurtle.Whether you are a District Officer, State CDE champ, or Greenhand.All American football or basketballplayer.An average student or scholastic genius.It does not matter how much money you have, how nice your car is, how high your friend count on Facebook is, or what you look like.  History has proven that when the going gets tough the tough get going.  The people in our history books range from outstanding public speakers to famous physicians.  No two the same, yet each and every one of them overcame their own challenges and beat back adversity.  Just like those individuals each and every one of ushas, deep within ourselves the ability to do what Marcus does; to cowboy up and perseverethrough any hardship life throws at you.
Even though we all have what it takes, if we do not apply courage to get back up we will never be able to get around the obstacle in our way.  Although I let my gold buckle dreams fade away I still love to watch bull riding on TV.  Each time I watch, it seems that there is always a young man being highlighted for his courage.
One weekend my family and I were watching a bull ride when the reporter started to talk about JB Mauney.  She talked about how JB had ridden with his opposite hand due to a broken wrist for several rides.  Riding with your off hand is somewhat like driving a car with your hands where your feet should be. JB could have simply taken time off to let his good hand heal, to just relax back home.  Rather than let the obstacle overcome him, JB gathered the courage to ride off handed.
I am not saying that we have to learn how to do something without the use of an appendage--I am saying we cannot overcome if we are not courageous enough to try.Ask yourself, “Do I possess that courage to pick myself back up and go again?” In the movie “Tall Tale” John Henry says “you don’t know what you can do until you try.”  If we do not gather the courage and try to overcome we will be stuck in the same rut, continually allowing the situation to overcome us.Another John, John Wayne once said “courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”  Maybe at speech contest you did not get such good scores, or maybe you were pinned in the first period of a wrestling match.  Do not let that one time scare you away from getting up and trying again.  If Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Charles Darwin, and Harrison Ford did not saddle back up after each of them experienced difficulty, they would not have become the famous individuals they are today.Do not be afraid to sit down and rewrite that speech so it will win.  Do not be afraid to step back out on that mat after a hard weeks practice.  Do not be scared to saddle back up, and show a bold courage to try again so that you can overcome.
We all have what it takes, and we know about having courage, but there is one final piece of the equation we are missing: a positive attitude.
Close your eyes and imagine you are in a gigantic gymnasium.  Thousands of people arescreaming at the top of their lungs, rocking the gym with noise as two young men do battle on one of the mats below.  The clock hits zero and the ref splits the boys up.  Then in front of everybody there he raises the hand of a wrestler clad in a white Plainville singlet.  Cheers erupt, coaches yell, and sweaty bro hugs and tears are shared as that grappler finishes this state tournament and his senior year of wrestling.  If you were to back track three weeks you would have seen a much different look on his usually happy face. Cole Werner, my sheep riding partner, wrestling buddy, and partner in crime on the golf course experienced the ultimate hardship.  Three weeks earlier Cole’s older brother made the decision to take his own life.  Cole took a couple days off of school, and at night after practice I would go visit him.  Shortly after he informed me he had every intention of competing in regionals the next week.  Two weeks later Cole competed at regionals, qualified for state and placed, becoming one of Plainville’s few four time state placers.  All because he cowboyed up, he refused to let the tragedy win. Overcoming by putting a smile on his face along with his singlet and head gear.
Think about that.  He was able to do what most of us call near impossible.  If Cole can do all of that, how much more can we do if we adopt that optimistic attitude?  Everyday there are chances for us to let insignificant things upset us, to make us pessimistic and miserable.  These opportunities to have our attitude dampened are literally everywhere.  Are you going to allow a minor incident take your attitude from optimism to pessimism?It is up to us to stay positive when we encounter these situations.  So what if we got one bad grade, if we miss one shot a game.  With optimism we can bounce back from any of those scenarios. The next time you are put down, experience failure, or do subpar on something and you feel like it will never get better; remember that story I told you.  If one little hundred and 25 pound wrestler can do so much with a positive attitude surely we can do the same, we can get back up as long as we do not let our attitude weaken our character.
Those two, simple, punchy words …Cowboy Up.  Those words that embody what each of us is capable of, that mean being courageous enough to get back up, having a positive attitude that keeps our heads high in the face of adversity.Why let anything get in our way?  In this sea of corduroy, you are all your own Marcus’s and Cole Werner’s.  You all have that spirit and soul that drives you to get back up, you all have an abundance of courage,you all possess that positive attitude, Kansas FFA I Challenge you to COWBOY UP.

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