Below was taken from a post on Steerplanet.com. It is a very well written essay that really puts winning in perspective. Congratulations to Larissa for your prize winning essay and your maturity at such a young age.
This is an essay I wrote for the 2011 Canadian Junior Hereford Bonanza Essay Competition. It won first place in the intermediate category and was published in the summer issue of Hereford's Today. I was asked by a Steer Planet member to post it on here. Hope you enjoy & feel free to give me your thoughts on it. - Larissa Lupul
"It`s Not About Winning, It`s About Deserving To Win"
By: Larissa Lupul
“It’s not about winning” These are four words that most people hear hundreds of times throughout their childhood. When someone would say that phrase to me I used to nod my head politely and pretend to agree with them. But I always felt that these were words designed to make the loser feel good even though in the eyes of everyone watching the competition ultimately, they were still the loser. My perspective on these words has changed as a direct result of four important events in my nine year career showing Polled Hereford cattle.
The first event goes back to Agribition 2008. This was my second year at the show and I had brought my heifer Tango as a yearling. She had placed at the top of her class two weeks earlier at FarmFair and with my lack of knowledge about showring politics I thought she could easily do it again in Regina. After placing at the bottom of both her open Hereford and junior classes, I was quite upset. As I was standing near the hitching ring with Tango, not wanting to go back to the stall and admit to placing last again, a man I had never met walked up to me with his hand out. I stared at it for a few seconds before I realized he wanted me to shake his hand. When he said the word “Congratulations” I had to try my best not to get angry. I was the loser, why would he say congratulations to me? Finally I composed myself and replied “Thank you but why? I didn’t win” He got a smile on his face and didn’t ask, but stated “The show program says your heifer was bred and owned by you”. I was still puzzled that was no reason to congratulate me. “And did you know that you were the only junior in your class whose animal was bred and owned?” He questioned. I shook my head. He then went on to explain to me that in the eyes of the judge my heifer was not a winner, but in the eyes of many I still was because I had put so much thought and work into Tango; everything from breeding her dam to getting her ready to show. No one bought or picked her out for me. She truly was, and always had been my heifer and for that reason, I was a winner.
I still have no idea who the man was, where he was from, or if he is even a Hereford breeder; but ever since that conversation with him, I have huge respect for juniors who show bred and owned cattle. I myself make a conscious effort to breed, instead of just buy the best, because I agree with what he said, even if my animals aren’t class winners; when I put that much work into them, I am still winning.
The second event takes place at my 4-H Heifer Club Show. A young boy in my club who had won champion steer for the past two years was refusing to set up his heifer’s feet in the showring. I knew he was fairly skilled at showmanship so I asked him why he wouldn’t set up his heifer. He answered “I only try when I’m going to win and I’m not going to win so why should I try?” This answer completely shocked me. Whenever I was in a situation where I was sure my animal wouldn’t win, I would use it as motivation to try harder, not to give up. Since that day, I always compare myself to that boy. Even if he is the one winning grand champion steer, I feel that I am winning in the long run because I am putting in the time and effort and I know that when I do win it is because I deserve it.
The third event that changed my perspective on the phrase “It’s not about wining” happened at the Vermillion Fair during the summer of 2010. I had just gotten back from Bonanza in Quebec when I got an invite in the mail for the show. I really wanted to attend it so I packed up my tack and heifer Whiplash and headed to Vermillion. Because I only brought one animal, my day was finished early so I ended up helping a friend with his Red Angus animals. He had three head in the championship class and the beautiful little heifer calf that I lead won Reserve Champion Female. But as the crowd clapped -assuming I was the owner- I felt nothing. I was happy for my friend and it was nice to lead the champion, but I didn’t deserve the applause. The fact that I had lead a winner, that didn’t make me one. This was the moment it finally clicked in my head, winning isn’t everything.
The fourth and final event takes us back to the Agribition Canadian Junior Beef Extreme 2010. I had been woken up an hour earlier than planned, so it was 2:45 am when we got to the barns. It was a little earlier than I liked to be awake, but I wanted my heifer to look good. And let me tell you, she did. When we finally stepped into the ring, we were unstoppable. Whiplash behaved better than she ever had in her whole show career and the judge noticed. Every heifer in the Hereford yearling heifer class was great, but I honestly believed that mine was better. The whole time I was in the ring -which was quite a while because it was a big class- I kept thinking ‘I deserve this. Whiplash deserves this. Everyone who has helped me during my years of showing cattle deserves this’. Although I wanted to win, even if the judge didn’t place my animal first, I would be a winner. Whiplash was bred and owned, the only one in her class too, I had put my blood, sweat and even a few tears into her. I had worked on her for months, even though I knew I would be competing against big name breeders who had been doing this since before I was born, deep down, I knew I deserved to win. And the judge thought so to. Whiplash won her yearling class and then won the Hereford division to be named the 2010 Canadian Junior Beef Extreme Champion Hereford!
On the drive home from Agribition, I was quieter than usual. I was thinking about my win with Whiplash and the lessons I had learned during my past few years showing cattle. These are the most important ones I came up with.
People take note when you breed instead of buy the good ones; it really is worth it to show bred and owned cattle. Just because you probably won’t win does not mean you cannot try; there’s always someone watching to see how much effort you put in. It’s no fun to win if you didn’t work for it; even if no one else notices, deep down you won’t really be satisfied. And from these showring lessons I have learned one huge life lesson: It’s not about winning; it’s about deserving to win.