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Seniors work to build NU tradition

To really understand the possibilities that exist for the future, being familiar with the past is crucial.

A sense of history is one of the most important ingredients in a successful athletic program. Each player must possess a certain pride that they are part of something bigger than one person.

Together they form traditions that create deep roots that will connect each player from year to year.



Those traditions can range from something as simple as a cheer, a drill in practice or a program motto.

But some of the most respected traditions are the physical reminders of the program. Such things as documentation of players who have set individual and team records or who were members of a championship team or have achieved something special – something the program wants its younger members to remember and strive for themselves.




A few months ago, Nevada Union seniors Sean Johnson and Andrew Jackson contacted me about helping them track down the names of Miner football players who earned first-team all-league honors a few years back.

They told me that finding those names was part of their senior project, which consisted of re-doing the weight room. I found the names for them, but still wasn’t exactly sure what they were building.

Last week, I received an e-mail from Andrew telling me their project was finished and would I like to come see it? I accepted the invitation.

I walked into the weight room only to enter a completely transformed place. The first thing you see upon entering the room are the words “Commitment to Excellence,” in big bold letters. The walls are completely repaired, the room is spotless, with a beautiful mural painted on the far wall.

But that wasn’t what the boys really wanted to show me. We walked to the back room of the weight room area, where they had created the Wall of Fame.

In two inch block letters, with one name after another, is the complete list of every Nevada Union football player who has earned first-team all-league honors since 1984. More than 200 names occupy the walls – from Tom Rath in 1984, all the way to David Zealear in 2005.

This new Wall of Fame replaces the old Ring of Fame which listed all-league players around the top edge of walls in the main room. Except some years were missing and the boys wanted to make the tradition more visible.

“People have already been coming in here (the weight room) and asking who someone is as they point to a name,” Johnson said. “To be able to look back, you can get a sense of continuity for the program.”

Jackson added, “We are engraving the past in stone.”

Both told me how important they felt it was for each new class of football players to know about the players who had come before them and know that a tradition of excellence has been started and must be continued.

Freshman football coach Gary Sharpe, a long-time coach with the program, came with the boys to show me what they had accomplished, adding his own insight to the history of the program.

He fondly recalled the story of when his son Matt was 10 years old and wandered up to his dad in the weight room. Matt’s eyes ran down the line of names on the Ring of Fame and he asked, “Dad, do you ever think I’ll ever be up there?”

Having something to shoot for in the years to come was an important motivation tool for Matt and undoubtedly for countless others. Every time those players step into the weight room, they have a silent reminder of who has come before them.

They, too, will want to see their names on the wall in years to come and to be included in the powerful history of the program.

I applaud Andrew and Sean for creating something that will no doubt become an important part of Nevada Union football for years to come. And will most definitely strengthen pride for the program.

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Sportswriter Stacy Hicklin’s column appears on Wednesdays. To contact her, e-mail stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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