KC at Bat: Remember the climb is what matters

“Take young researchers, put them together in virtual seclusion, give them an unprecedented degree of freedom and turn up the pressure by fostering competitiveness.” ‑James D. Watson, American scientist

Two young biology enthusiasts who are near and dear to my heart will be among the more than 800 students receiving degrees today at Adams State University. It’s my belief that their incessant competitiveness got them to this monumental accomplishment, which may see both graduate with honors.

Tyler Cerny and Megan (Gylling) Cerny give this dad “double button-popping” pride today as they bid adieu to the hallowed halls of ASU, at least as students. Double-major Megan may have dreams of returning here someday as a science professor.

Tyler will receive a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology and continue to pursue his dream of becoming an officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Continuing to graduate school this fall at CU-Denver, Megan will receive a Bachelor of Science in Cellular/Molecular Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Allied Health Chemistry.

This young couple who were married last July would not be denied this goal, or many others in their lives. For both, it began early in both school and athletics as competitiveness took control.

Tyler was a successful three-sport athlete at Alamosa High School and attempted to continue his baseball prowess at ASU until a serious ankle injury ended that. He was not destined to make the big leagues and told me, “Dad, I came here for an education first.”

Megan starred on the volleyball court at Centauri High proving that you don’t need towering height to succeed in athletics. And she continues to enjoy and excel in the sport in adult leagues.

NFL great Tom Brady once said, “Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast; but that mental toughness that you talk about translates into competitiveness.”

Having covered young people as a journalist for 45 years now, I can attest that students who participate in extracurricular activities do better in academics. It’s all about the competition and keeping them interested in school.

“My philosophy is that you don’t motivate players with speeches; you have motivated players that you draft,” NBA coach Phil Jackson once said. “That’s where they come in, and those are the guys that are competitive.

“You cannot teach competitiveness.”

Following in his dad’s, uncle’s and brother’s footsteps, Tyler has continued his desire to be involved and ingrained in helping people as a member of the Alamosa Fire Department. Again, his competitiveness shined through as he was voted the department’s “Firefighter of the Year,” for 2017. An honor his older brother had received earlier.

There is no doubt in this proud father’s mind that these two will continue to excel in anything they pursue.

I love you Ty and Megan, but I remind you both to remember what American mountain climber Conrad Anker once said:

“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.”