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Patriot Expressions

Defeat Before Victory

Photo by Ciara Massey

Photo by Ciara Massey

Ciara Massey, Reporter

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During current senior Christian Gilbert’s freshman year, he was busy. Not only was he pumping up the crowd at football and basketball games as mascot “Pat the Patriot,” his academic schedule was packed full as well. After trying out for the basketball team, his life was set in a completely different direction.

Gilbert did not make the team that year, but he was not discouraged. Instead, he decided to try out for something else: track. He made the team as a distance runner and later joined cross country. Since then, he has not looked back. Dedication to his sport helped him to earn a scholarship to Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, AR.

Aside from running, Gilbert was also involved in other extracurricular activities. He joined the club Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Later, he went on to place third overall at the FCCLA State STAR Conference, where he was the only Marion student and one of the only African American competitors there.

At the beginning of the school year, Gilbert was focused on school, sports and work. He joined FCCLA on a whim while attending the school’s club fair.

“I wanted to do something different my senior year, something I’ve never done, go out of my comfort zone,” Gilbert said.

At the conference, students explained an idea to help improve their community. Gilbert’s idea was influenced by his life. His idea was a gym he named ‘The Mighty Gym,’ that was aimed toward the elderly, children and people of lower socioeconomic status. It would teach members how to eat healthy, work out and have fun while doing it in order to form a healthier lifestyle. He also planned to hold classes to teach children how to swim.

“If I have it [the gym] around here, we can do a partnership with the school and have them have a swim team,” Gilbert proposed. “The nearest school, that I can think of, that has a swim team is Jonesboro…we have the people, so why not us?”

Photo provided by Christian Gilbert
Gilbert poses with his FCCLA medal and award.

Staying active has helped Gilbert achieve his goals throughout high school and shaped his future, as evidenced by his running scholarship. Although Gilbert had his pick of several colleges and quite a few things factored into his choice, his main reason for picking Crowley’s Ridge was a comforting feeling of home. There, he plans to study education and become a teacher. He is also excited by the prospect of continuing to run while in college.

“It’s not to the point where I’m so excited, that it’s [running in college] all I think about, but I’m more worried about helping the team out and going to a new adventure,” Gilbert said. “Hopefully, I don’t get beat too bad. But, we’ll see, there’s gonna always be defeat before victory.

To other teenagers and students looking for advice, Gilbert offered a few words.  

“To anyone reading this story, follow your dreams, don’t go by what anyone else says because the people who are usually being negative about your decisions are either jealous of you or want to do what you’re doing, rather it be with school, or a relationship, anything,” Gilbert advised. “For example, some people would try to bash me about my college decision. For all the younger kids, don’t give up. If something gets hard, try harder, because if it’s hard, that means it’s meant to be.”

The advice that Gilbert gives can apply to any aspect of life. Never give up because passion can be found in unlikely places.

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Defeat Before Victory