I was led astray in high school by some of the upper classmates on the track team. I had grown up with the ambition to be the best I could be at whatever the challenge was. I don't know where that came from, but it was there. I, of course, was born with some natural traits as we all are. I don't know what events led to my makeup and I never will. What made me want to excel, I guess, was the desire to be recognized for my accomplishments and I worked hard for that recognition.
I think there is a desire in all of us to see our name "in the Marquee Lights", and I think that is what, more than anything else, motivates most people. I don't think it is money or possessions, but plain old recognition...just a pat on the back and congratulations for a job well done! I have always thrown myself into whatever I was trying to accomplish at maximum effort...always to be the best I could be, except one time, and that was the FSHS track team.
We have all faced "peer pressures" at one time or another and I was no exception. Running track was hard work, but I had always wanted to run faster than anybody and I was willing to work hard to be better and faster....I listened to the coach to learn the technique of running and one of the techniques was to use my hands and arms to "reach out and pull myself along" by grabbing the air in front of me. I learned how to use starting blocks and to anticipate the firing of the starting gun to get the best start out of the blocks, and I worked hard at it. I remember in junior high at one of the big track meets in FS, there were so many participants in the 100 yd. dash, they decided to run it on the football field and we were stretched totally across the field at the start line. There were judges at the finish line and it was determined that I was the third place finisher, having defeated everyone running for Fort Scott, but not the two in front of me from somewhere else. I was not too happy.
Shortly thereafter, we were practicing, running laps for conditioning and so on and I remember going down the back straight-a-way and there in front of me were some of the upper classmates. It was a pretty hot day and there was a big shade tree on the northeast corner of the track and an embankment going down from the track to the cooling shade of that big old tree. I noticed some of those guys looking to see if the coach was watching, and he wasn't, so they went on down over the embankment to rest under the tree. I continued on around the track for one more lap and the next time on passing that tree, I went "over the hill" to get into the shade. Everyone was lying there in the cool grass instead of running as they were supposed to be doing and that soon included me, as well. There was when I learned to loaf instead of working and I learned it was much easier, and it was the "cool" thing to do, but I did not get any better.
To this day I am ashamed that I let peer pressure get in the way of being the best I could be.