PINEDALE – The Wrangler football team finished out a tough 2020 season trailing its opponent with little hope of closing the gap. During the long season, the team took one beating after another.
Regardless of how bloody and broken the offensive or defensive line looked, the team refused to throw in the towel and charged ahead through all four quarters with heads held high.
A large part of the Wranglers’ ability to hang on during a rough ride was positive leadership from team captains, including senior Carson Gregory.
“I tried to focus on being respectful and being a leader too,” Gregory said. “It’s just a game at the end of the day. They did beat you, but you always tell them, ‘Good job,’ and move on to work to be better than the person that beat you.”
Gregory combined leadership and a positive outlook on the football and track teams to work toward not only the physical fitness hours required by the Congressional Award, but to personal development hours as well.
“Personal development in athletics depends on your work ethic and how much you want something,” he said. “If you really want to be good at something, then you’re going to have to devote more time to it.”
Gregory’s willingness to put in the extra work earned him the Bronze Medal Congressional Award, one of the highest honors high school students can receive. To earn the Bronze Medal, students must complete 100 hours of volunteer service, 50 hours of personal development and 50 hours of physical fitness in additional to planning an exploration or expedition.
Gregory’s history teacher at PHS, Rose Robertson, encouraged her class to apply for the Congressional Award program. Gregory jumped at the opportunity and surpassed many of his peers in advancing through each step in the program.
“I became a better person through this process,” he said. “(Robertson) set me on this path and I think that it definitely influenced me in a positive way throughout high school.”
To complete his volunteer service hours, Gregory worked at the Children’s Learning Center in Pinedale. He helped overhaul and replant the school’s garden two summers ago.
Gregory also volunteered at youth football programs and camps, although public health orders restricted those activities last summer.
Working with young people requires plenty of patience, Gregory realized.
“When I understood what they needed, I could help them better,” he said. “I was trying my best to be a good role model to them – help them get on the right path and understand the basics of football.”
Gregory’s development as an athlete on the football and track team, along with hours spent in the weight room, allowed him to pick up personal development and physical activity hours. Leadership was where Gregory’s growth and maturity really stood out.
During his junior and senior years, Gregory served as a team captain on the football team. He explained that the role involved far more than calling the coin toss before a game.
“It’s about being somebody that all the younger players can look up to, especially this last year since we had freshmen playing varsity and those guys were nervous going into games. Who are they going to look at to stay calm? Someone like me, like Colby White or Kaleb Bigelow. We have to be the bastions and the foundations of our football team and keep everybody strong.”
Gregory’s leadership philosophy goes far beyond badgering and coercion.
“I’m direct when I need to be, but I try to be relaxed and understanding when I lead,” he said. “If someone doesn’t want to do something, I’m going to negotiate and try to understand their point of view instead of just yelling at them, because I don’t think that works.”
Gregory is a member of the National Honor Society and earned All-Conference, First Team recognition in football his junior and senior years. At the Green River Invitational last Saturday, Gregory prequalified for State in the discus.
Gregory thanked his high school coaches, internship supervisors, “and of course my parents and my teachers” for support during the process.
Following graduation, Gregory will attend the University of Wyoming. He plans to major in general biology with a minor in zoology, although he recognized those plans could change.
As far as a future career, the road is wide open.
“It’s more about what I want to do and whether I enjoy learning about it while I’m in college,” he said. “From there, I can find a job. That first step is so important.”