Risks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 17, 2007
By
“Damn it!”

My dad was right and I know it, but it’s too late now. I’m stuck on a rock face in Wales, one mile into the Sawdde Gorge. I’m determined to make it to the top, not just because I want to, but because I have no choice. My hand slips as I grab for the wet rock above me. Bad idea. I glance at the bottom of the rocky gorge 50 feet below. Looking for the next moss-covered rock to grab, I wonder, Am I really the risk-taker I think I am?

Had I not taken risks in that Welsh gorge, I may have never gotten out in one piece. Far too often, I’ve heard stories about people who reach the end of their lives and regret that they never took chances, challenged life, or tried anything beyond their routine. I vowed not to become one of these people and have lived my life accordingly.

When I was nine, my father pulled me into the basement away from my mother and gave me the choice of ­going to a six-week summer camp or staying home with my friends. I chose to go to camp, even though I had never been away from home or my parents. I took the risk to try something new without knowing what would happen.

This was a major turning point in my life. For the five years that followed, I attended Culver Summer Camps, which led me to my place in the world today, Culver Military Academy. At this boarding school, I am learning to take risks and to prepare for them mentally, physically, and emotion­ally.

When students formed a rugby club during freshman year, I signed up, even though I knew little about it except that games are violent and injuries are common. My dad ­always tells me, “Try not to break a bone. Don’t take unnecessary risks.” But on the rugby field, that’s exactly what it takes to win.

My stance is set on our own 20-­meter line with 10 minutes left in the match. The noise of the crowd, muffled at first, then deafening, puts my senses in overdrive. I’m in charge and I have to make a choice, have to take a risk that can lead to loss or victory. I “wormburner” the ball, kicking it so that it tumbles quickly down the field and over our opponents’ heads. That’s not my first choice, but it’s the only one that gets the ball beyond their defense.

My risk does not work as I had expected. The ball bounces out of bounds leading to a scrum by the other team. The formation is a beautiful sight – the purest sense of the word “meeting.” Each team forms a unified battering ram that looks similar to a Roman Legion’s tortoise formation. The ball comes out on our side, and we move it to the try-line, scoring five points for our team.

My risk-taking is not limited to rock climbing and rugby pitches. I am one of eight students pursuing a Project in Science Research Honors. In this elite class, students create their own curri­cula and complete research on something never before explored. Within the class, students decided to research the effect of sound waves on plant growth, or whether making ethanol from leaves is productive. But I wanted to do something new and exciting, something beyond anything I’d done before – I wanted to make a bike propelled by both permanent magnets and electromagnets.

As Malcolm Forbes says, “The people who have done big things are those who were not afraid to attempt big things, who were not afraid to risk failure in order to gain success.” I chose this ambitious project for the same ­reasons I climbed the Welsh gorge, left home for boarding school, signed up as a novice for rugby, and pursued honors in science: I am not content with the minimum and must go further no ­matter what.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Isaac B. said...
Oct. 24, 2008 at 2:12 pm
Good job Theo you did a great job. I think thats a really good ellay i know I couldn't do that.
 
lorma said...
Oct. 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm
I loved the article and your appraoch - drawing us right into the essay with the action! However, i think your piece deserves a more inviting and creative title.
 
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