What It Takes To Be A Champion Essay

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What is a Champion?

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What is a Champion?


There are many definitions of the word 'champion,' and many reasons why people want that title. For some it's ego, for some it's pride, for some it's fame, and for others it's fortune. Perhaps the truest definition of a champion, though, is someone who doesn't think of themselves as one, but others do.


After photographing the World Superfight Championship, I was standing by the ring as the arena emptied, when a middle-aged local man emerged from the crowd. Threading his way through the foot traffic, he walked up to one of the fighters signing autographs and apparently asked a question. The fighter glanced up, shook his head no, and then turned away. The man shrugged and moved on. He went to another fighter, and yet another, obviously asking the same question and obviously getting the same negative response. He glanced over, saw several fighters in my vicinity, and came over. Curious, I edged closer. 'Hello,' he said to them. 'I'm Mario from the Mas Oyama Karate school. We're having a kids tournament tomorrow and I was wondering if you could come?'


The Fighters, understandably tired after their bouts, all shook their heads. 'Some other time, man,' one said. Then they all walked off. The man sighed and started to walk away. yo!., a voice boomed from behind the corner of the raised ring. 'You say there be some kids there?' The man stopped and turned as 280-pound Joe Charles, who had just lost that night's very physical 'Superfight,' painfully stood up and limped over. 'it would mean a lot to them,' Mario said eagerly. Charles nodded rnatter-of-factly. "Pick me up in the morning.' He then shuffled off to the showers. The next morning, as I stood in front of the hotel with my camera and luggage, waiting for a ride to the airport, a small, two-door import drove up. Out jumped Mario, who waved behind me at a bag-laden Joe Charles, just walking out. 'Thanks for coming, Joe,' he said. 'And you brought a photographer to shoot the kids.' I looked at Mario, smiled and shrugged. 'Actually, Joe didn't...' 'Yes, I did,' Charles said, raising his voice and his eyebrows. "Right?" I hurriedly nodded. "Uh, right ... sure.' So we piled into the small car, Charles so sore that he could barely bend his legs, and drove to a sweltering gym in the middle of the island.

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Champion         Mario         Many Reasons         Tournament         Fighter         Thanks         Signing         Karate         Import         Arena        

As Mario bounded ahead, I had to help Charles out of the car and wait for him as he limped slowly into the arena. There, for the next hour, I dutifully took pictures as Charles met the kids, said a few words, and then stayed around to watch their matches until we had to leave to catch our flight. it really was a small thing - to us - and Charles didn't say ten words about it afterwards.


But twenty years from now when those kids are grown, and they're telling their children who their heroes were, they aren't going to remember who won or lost that fight. They won't be able to say who got the biggest trophy, or whose championship belt was the shiniest, or who made the most money. What they'll remember and pass on, in word and in deed, is how the giant American, Joe Charles, came to their small tournament, the day after a big fight, and spent some time with them.


When Jessica Wickham entered a statewide essay contest her motivation was the $1,500 first place prize. What she won turned out to be priceless. “When I started out my goal was to win money. I wound up getting really passionate about the topic and writing the best essay I’ve ever written.”

The contest was for the David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship which is administered annually by the Historical Society of the New York Courts. Student entrants were required to write an essay between 1,500 and 5,500 words on the topic, “What role does jury service play in our democracy?”

Wickham came to the contest with a strong academic background. The 2014 Cortland High School graduate is a Liberal Arts & Sciences major pursuing a career in journalism who is a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Even so this contest would be extremely difficult. “Once I started looking into it I realized it was pretty complicated. It was quite challenging.”

Wickham took her challenge to OCC’s Learning Center where tutors help students seven days a week. That’s where she met Jim Resti, an OCC English professor who both attended at taught at Syracuse University’s College of Law. His strong background in both writing and the legal system was exactly what she needed. “I felt like I was hitting a brick wall. He helped me take a step back, brainstorm and figure everything out.”

Wickham and Resti met once a week over the course of a month. Each week she came with a new draft of her essay. He reviewed it and made recommendations on how she could improve it.

The deadline for entry was April 1st. Wickham finished her essay in time. Before submitting it she reviewed it one last time and thought about what she had accomplished. “It was the most difficult essay I had ever written. I was so proud of it. I used so many sources and spent so many hours writing and reviewing it. When I was done I said, ‘Wow this is amazing. I’m so proud of it!’”

In late April Wickham got a call from the Historical Society of the New York Courts. She learned she was the runner-up and would receive a $1,000 prize. She was both thrilled and thankful for her journey. “I learned a lot about something I never would have delved into myself. I learned so much watching YouTube videos, reading research articles and so many different things. I grew as a writer and as a citizen of the Unites States of America.”

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Tagged: David A. Garfinkel Essay ScholarshipHistorical Society of the New York CourtsOCCOnondaga Community College


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