"I thank my God every time I remember you." -Philippians 1:3
Well folks, we've reached the end. The end of livestock judging, that is. After tomorrow, myself and approximately 150 other livestock enthusiasts will be unable to compete in livestock judging contests again. We can coach, we can judge shows, we can look at livestock until our hearts content, but never again compete. So, brace yourselves for a lengthy blog post: here it goes.
First, I would like to confess, that after figuring out blogs can be pre-written, saved, and uploaded automatically, this blog post was actually written a couple weeks ago, we all know the day before Louisville judging is not the best time to write a blog post!
So, onto my main point. For ten years now, I have been a part of a livestock judging team. I started as a member of the McLennan County 4-H team, then a Butler Grizzly, and ended as a Texas Tech Red Raider. I had an oh-so-typical livestock judging career. It started out with humble beginnings at age 11, not really knowing what to do, then a passion developed, high school got real, judged in junior college, and ended up judging senior college under the coach that coached my high school coach (yeah, this is real life).
As I mentioned, this blog was written a few weeks ago, meaning at the current time, we know (or are about to know) who is and isn't marking for Texas Tech at the Louisville contest. So, let me fill you in, in case you don't know what this means. Marking at Louisville in senior college is like being on the starting lineup kickoff at the Super Bowl, it's like winning a grammy, it's like setting a world-record at the Olympics. I'm not sure why the Louisville "bull" (aka the trophy for winning Lville) isn't broadcasted as much, it's certainly of the same caliber.
Back when I wrote this, I got to thinking, what verse can I automatically set for the day before Louisville? Something impactful. Then, I thought of Philippians 1:3. "I thank my God every time I remember you." Because, every time I think of my teammates, from ten years ago, to the four years I spent traveling with Butler and Tech, I drop to my knees and praise the Lord for the precious time I got to spend with them.
Livestock judging brings out the competitive side in us all. It's a firey passion that drives a 15 passenger van 18 hours across the nation to look at bow hocked hogs, practical every day Hereford bulls, framey rams, and sometimes, even elite livestock. It's a love affair for a steno page filled with pencil scribbles, it's an addiction to a smirk on a cattleman's face in the reasons room. It's a heart pounding, moment of stress, "two minutes left", mark your card, take your notes and move on addiction that we all strive to be the best at.
I'd like to say at the end of the day that the memories I've made, the relationships I've built with future industry leaders, and the sheer love of judging will override anything that happens tomorrow. In the end, I think it will. But, let's be real: winning Louisville is a big deal. In our world, mediocrity isn't awarded. Not everyone gets a trophy. Only one team comes home with the bull, only ten individuals carry that pride for their lifetime. I'll shake the hand of whoever is holding the bull on Tuesday morning, but I sure hope it is my teammate.
I'd like to wish good luck to all who compete tomorrow, especially to the five who compete for Texas Tech University. You bet your britches I hope I have the privilege of being one of the five. But, even if I'm not, "I thank my God" for the time I spent learning, loving, and growing. I wouldn't trade the past ten years of preparation for anything.
Tomorrow, may your brain be sharp, your shirt collar crisp, and dang - Fight Raiders Fight.