Growing up fast: Denzel Goolsby’s story of perseverance

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K-State senior Denzel Goolsby prides himself on being more than an athlete. he’s a great safety for the Cats, but has set himself up to be successful in the business world and as a family man.

He’s a thinker and keeps his mind sharp reading. fearless by Eric Blehm is one of his favorite books, it follows the trials and tribulations of navy seal Adam Brown, who said: “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.” Goolsby can certainly relate.

“If I can just be a well-rounded individual, I think my impact is going to be a lot bigger than maybe just a good sports player or somebody that’s a good student, and so, for me, I just always try to focus on ‘what’s my legacy going to be after I’m done here?'”

That mindset was developed long before the Wichita native took the field in manhattan, and it blossomed as a result of struggle. Goolsby’s father walked away from his family early in his high school days, leaving him and his mother in a tough spot. They slept on floors for periods of time, but he wouldn’t be deterred.

“It was a huge process of just growing up at a young age. I’ve always felt a lot older than I am, people have told me that my whole life and a lot of that was forced. To be that, to become that and you just learn to look at life in a different way.”

His work ethic became tireless, he’d run before the sun came up and cut grass to make money on the weekends. he turned the struggle into success, and it started to pay off in the form of scholarship offers.

“My number one focus was short term sacrifice for long term gain.”

Between the time he accepted his offer to K-State and when he arrived on campus, he mended his relationship with his father. but the reunion was unfortunately brief. his dad passed away as his freshman year at k-state and on top of that, he lost both his grandmothers and his closest uncle.

“You know, you go through that and it’s easy to get upset at the world, people want to blame God, people want to blame everyone else around them and get angry and become bitter and become somebody that they’re not. And rather than let that happened, I just wanted to see what is it about life that makes it so valuable.”

He’s found value in giving back and preparing for his future outside of football. he’s going to earn his masters in 2020. on top of that, he’s been a part of the big brothers and big sister program since his freshman year when he started mentoring a local kid named Shannon. Shannon waited a long time before he found his match in the program, when Goolsby heard that, the choice was easy.

“You know, being on a waitlist for two years, wondering who his big brother was going to be in that program, why nobody has matched with him and so for me, it’s a responsibility to give back to the community. You don’t do good things for the recognition”

Football helped get Goolsby out of a dark place, but he hasn’t forgot what made him and he’s doing much more to make sure he and his family are set for life.

“It’s definitely helped me to have a grateful outlook on life, it’s helped me be the best person I can possibly be and i think the best thing is that you’ve never truly arrived, you’re always on becoming that best version of yourself.” 

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