Jared Lankford: Don't settle for 'good enough'

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Jared Lankford

One of the aspects of my job I enjoy is telling people's stories.

Those stories range from inspirational to heartbreak or as ABC Sports used to advertise-- The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Inside every one of us is that voice that either encourages us to go on, or give up.

To me, the saddest thing that can be said about a player is -- think about how good they could be if they had worked just a little harder.

My roots run deep in the southwest Missouri rocky soil. When I think of athletes that inspire, I always look to those elite few who have transcended the prep fields of our humble alma maters and made their mark on the college or even professional level.

The biggest name to me is former Webb City standout Grant Wistrom.

Growing up, I mainly attended Seneca and Neosho football games. However, with my uncle, Ron Lankford, serving as the superintendent of Webb City Schools, we also watched our fair share of Cardinal games.

Wistrom wasn't blessed with freakish size or super human strength. But what he did possess was heart and drive that surpassed those he lined up against on Friday nights. He might get blocked for three quarters of a game, but his motor never stopped and he eventually made his mark in contests.

A media outlet once interviewed Wistrom about the culture shock of playing for Webb City and then going to Nebraska.

The All-American said the biggest obstacle was going from a team and a state where he was named the best player, to a program where every player was the best from their state as well. Three national championships later, Wistrom had demonstrated his ability to hang with the elite in the nation.

When Wistrom entered the NFL draft, the pundits agreed that he was talented, but undersized to make much of a difference for more than a couple of years.

Wistrom and his motor once again proved the skeptics wrong.

The driving force behind this Missouri legend's success was his inner voice not letting him settle for just being --good enough. He couldn't accept the fact that he was the best on his team or in his conference. He wanted to be the best...period.

Wistrom also pointed to the fact that playing other sports helped him develop his football skills.

The mistake that many prep athletes make today, in my opinion, is listening to a voice that says --you are the best on your team, that is good enough.

Athletes can fall into a trap and false sense of superiority by seeing their talents exceed their teammates.

I've known and covered athletes that were content with just being good enough. It takes more than talent alone to win.

Had Wistrom settled for being good enough, he would have been known for being a good high school player.

But he didn't. His sights were always focused on being the best.

His story is a testament to what a person, an athlete, can

accomplish if they just keep pushing forward, through the workout pain and sweat and tears.

On Monday, football camps around the state kick off. The team that will hold the trophy up in Springfield this year will be the squad that didn't settle for just being good enough, or being a talented group of players that won a few games. It will be the group that wanted to be the best.


Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He can be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com, or 417-847-2610.

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