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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Inspired by Puss

Rejection email

Picture this: One student’s dying dream of playing a single down of collegiate football on the biggest stage the NCAA has to offer. 

That student is me, that stage is the SEC and to most, that dream may seem outlandish or just plain delusional.

All things considered, why would someone entering their senior year as an undergrad be interested in trying out for a team that boasted the number one recruiting class in the nation last year?

In fact, I had already adopted the mindset of, “If it hasn’t happened yet, why would it happen now?” More importantly, as my grandmother would put it, “Why in the Sam Heck do you think you’re good enough to try out for the football team?” 

These ‘reasonable’ and ‘pragmatic’ uncertainties consumed my judgment and formed inhibitions that soon became untameable. This overwhelming sense of doubt followed me all throughout my time in college. 

I went from a fiery, and somewhat cocky, all-state wide receiver who was interviewed practically after every game in high school to someone who couldn’t stomach watching college games on TV. This was for a multitude of reasons.  

Whether it was because I couldn’t stand the sight of others filling the shoes I had only dreamt of wearing or thinking I wasn’t given the same shot as the other guys, for the first time in my life, I was sick of football. 

That was until I watched “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”

No this isn’t satire, and yes, you can get your laughs out now. Be it as it may, an animated kid’s movie intended for audiences as young as 8 years old, “The Last Wish” inspired me to finally start holding myself accountable.

In short, the film’s protagonist Puss in Boots finds himself in a state of melancholy oblivion after discovering he is down to his ninth and final life. Oh, and I’ll mention there are spoilers ahead. 

Things become even messier when we learn the physical embodiment of death is also after him. This causes him to forcibly retire from his self-proclaimed “legendary lifestyle” of vigilante crime-fighting and sacrifice his mantle as world’s most famous outlaw. 

In a complete 180, Puss reflects on how he took his past lives for granted and was too far infatuated with his image to care about any of his friends. Finally, after narrowingly fleeing Death’s grasp several times throughout the film, they meet one final time in an epic duel. 

In this sword fight, Boots has the option to ‘escape’ Death by casting a spell to grant him more lives, but he doesn’t. He takes on Death’s request to “pick it [his sword] up” and fight him even though Boots knows he cannot possibly defeat Death. 

Once it was all said and done, Boots still earned Death’s respect despite losing and was allowed to leave with his life.

This is important because it shows us two things. The first is that no one is larger than life, and we will all at some point face our inevitable demise. 

The second is that while we may try our hardest to achieve a goal, we are never guaranteed a specific outcome. Now how does this all tie into my aspirations of walking-onto the football team? For the first three years of my college career, I walked in Boots’ boots. 

Blinded by the highlights of memories past, I refused to let go of my hometown legacy thinking, “Of course I am good enough to play at the division one level.” Now would I act on this arrogance and try out for the team? I think we all know the answer.  

For several semesters, I was able to convince myself  “I was too busy” or “had other things to worry about.” After all, according to the legend himself, “Puss in Boots laughs in the face of death.” 

Similarly, his deep-seated fear mirrored my own and, just like Boots, I was in a constant state of denial and fear. I ran and scurried away from any tangible answer that would have officially declared my time as a competitive athlete dead. 

Eventually when I laid my arrogant ‘legend’ persona to rest, and realized it was gone the moment I left my hometown and graduated, I was able to muster up the courage to find out the truth for myself. 

Following months of waking up at 6 a.m. and rigorous training, the day had arrived. A day that would either mark the end of my time as a football player or commemorate a triumphant return. 

After giving me a practice jersey and taking down my height and weight, we were told what to expect. Five agility drills mixed in with some conditioning and a 40-yard dash would determine our fate. 

For the next 45-minutes I was locked in. Ladder drill. Check. Shuttle run drill. Easy. Backpedaling and sprints. Effortless. 

It was now down to the 40-yard dash. The first run felt smooth. The second run, reserved only for players who finished first in their group, felt even better. 

Once tryouts were over, everyone there huddled up, raised their fists and collectively chanted, “Farmer’s Fight!” 

Now it was time to wait. We were told to expect a phone call within 24-hours if we had made it and an email a few days later if we didn’t.


Was my ego a little bruised? Sure, but the feeling was nothing in comparison to knowing how close I actually was when pitted against the nation’s top athletes. My fear had vanished and at the end of the day, I had nothing left to prove. 

Likewise, Boots may not have emerged victorious, but this doesn’t make him any less legendary. What makes him a hero is the fact he stopped running away from his demons and decided to live for those closest to him. 

While they never disclosed how many walk-on players were invited to join the spring roster, something tells me I wasn’t too far off the mark. For what it’s worth, I was able to put on a jersey and strive towards greatness alongside my fellow Aggie brethren for one final ride. 

Lastly, I implore you to pursue whatever it is you’ve been running from. Whether it’s changing majors, entering a new relationship or something as silly as trying out for a sport, I challenge you to stare it down. 

Stand proudly in the face of adversity and fear. “Make it your b!*ch,” as Perrito, Boots’ companion, would say. 

I can’t guarantee you’ll achieve success, but you just might surprise yourself in the process. 

Benjamin Barnes is a telecommunications junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

    via Universal Pictures
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Bj Barnes
Bj Barnes, Opinion Columnist
Benjamin Barnes is a Telecommunication Media Studies senior from Rochester, Indiana. Barnes' has been involved with The Battalion since his junior year and plans to start his own media group following graduation. If he's not writing, he's most likely watching a Texans game or at the gym.
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