Monday, August 13, 2012

A look into the past: 30 Years and a Little Trophy Ago

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” or so the saying goes. Well, I had no idea how fast the past 30 years had flown by until a few weeks ago I was traveling down Memory Lane, or actually Nebraska’s Hwy. 2, when a childhood memory hit me like a brick – a fast moving brick aimed right to the chest to knock the wind out of me. I was going through my childhood hometown of Mullen in the heart of ht Sandhills, and took note that it was Hooker County Fair week.

After some quick, or quick for me, math, I calculated that it was indeed 30 years prior that I had competed in my first 4-H fair and won my first trophy. And that trophy has moved through three states with me, multiple houses, colleges, apartments and jobs, as a reminder of my humble beginning. You see, I was just 9-years-old and pretty little, compared to the “big” kids and my mentors, like Donnie, Jamie & David Cox and John & Julie Tucker, some of the others in our county that showed. I’m sure I was a nuisance “tag along” but they tolerated and even coached me as I went into the showring for the first time. I loved my little “home-raised” Hereford heifer, and was so proud of her – SAS Jolly Dolly. We spent countless hours in the coral, as my dad and I practiced showmanship every night. All that work paid off, and I won reserve champion heifer, or “hiefer” as I wrote countless times in my 4-H record book – a sure sign I struggled through and did my own work! And, the next year we moved away to Dawes County, where I made more and new friends, but never forgot where I got my start. The trophies and awards I won in the future were bigger, shinier, fancier. But none of them are as well traveled as this little marble-based, golden crowned with red velvet trophy.

Why do I share this? Well, I think it is important we all remember where we came from. I’ve not had a lot of time to watch this summer’s Olympic Games, but I have caught some of the athletes’ stories. Some of them had very humble beginnings, just like me and Jolly Dolly. Some countries start training their athletes by taking them away from their families and training them at such a young age. Some families have made major sacrifices for the athletes in their families; and some are repeat Olympians who hold world record titles. If someone would have told 30 years after I won that first trophy, that would be the beginning of a successful career in the livestock industry, I would have questioned them. But every year when I’m in Denver for the Stock Show, surrounded by great cattle producers, herdsman and fitters, I feel so blessed and humbled.

So, time really DOES fly when you’re having fun! Who’d have thought that 30 years would have passed in front of me so quickly?!?! I can’t wait to see where the next 30 years will take me, and I’ll never forget that first show season with Jolly Dolly. And I appreciate all those who gave me guidance and “coached” me along the way. Where did you get your start? Was it at a little ole fairgrounds in rural America? Never forget your roots, they will keep you grounded.