Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

2015 McKenzie Gauntz
North Bend High School
Western Oregon University

An Essay by McKenzie Gauntz

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"
 
Freshman year, late in my season, amongst the various preparations for the State Track & Field meet, my relay team and I were in the locker room puffy -painting our t-shirts. The senior captain gave us the quote "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift," by the legendary Steve Prefontaine, to put on our shirts. This was my first encounter with this quote, and initially, I did not think much of it; however, in the two years since, I have developed a deep understanding of these words.

During the majority of my junior year pole vault season, I was the team's leader. Every day at practice, I would jump run and do drills for hours, making sure to give my all; ironically this was my problem. My teammate ended up surpassing me and beating me at the district and state meet, and I knew exactly why. Unlike myself, she worked exceptionally hard, not only in practice, but in the off-season as well. Indeed, this defeat was very difficult for me, but it was the most motivating moment of my athletic career. From then on I was determined to give my best and not sacrifice the gift that God gave me, in both my athletics and academics.

This year, I have taught myself -- through practice -- what it means to give my best. It means that, in every endeavor, I will give my all and have no regrets or dissatisfaction with my work. I have put these ideas into practice in my schooling and my career as a pole vaulter. This year, three of my toughest classes are Anatomy and Physiology, Trigonometry, and Writing 121. Doing well in these classes provides me, with a great foundation for college as I begin and complete my nursing degree. And year in pole vault, I began practice, weight training, and cardio training months before the season. I have also changed my mentality toward my goals. I no longer set a specific height as a goal; to give my best and work my hardest each and every day is what I focus on. This, in turn, has led to drastic improvements and a very positive outlook on this current season. The wise words of Steve Prefontaine have evolved from some glitter paint on a t-shirt to the way that I choose to live my life and tackle obstacles.