Sweat For Success


Last week, the weather in our region was sweltering. High humidity, steamy days, temperatures in the upper 80s….it felt far more like mid-summer than the tail end of the fair-weather season.

But autumn activities were nevertheless in full swing, creating some interesting match-ups.

Take, for instance, marching band. The 160+ members of the Worthington High School “Spirit of Worthington” Trojan marching band were scheduled to compete in the Menno Band Day parade on Friday, when the high temperature in that southeastern South Dakota hamlet topped 90 degrees.

There they were, dressed in arm-length black polyester jackets (with black t-shirts beneath) fastened close to their necks, black bibbers, black socks, black shoes, black gloves, gauntlets (to ensure not a bit of breeze could possibly migrate to one’s skin through a sleeve)–and all of it topped with black shakos tightly secured under chins with black plastic straps.

As a parent chaperone, I was sweating to (please humor me) beat the band while wearing only a (black) t-shirt, khaki shorts and airy though sturdy sandals.

The students, meanwhile, had to either carry drums, tubas, trumpets, trombones or woodwinds and somehow manage to either beat on or blow into their varied instruments, all while moving and maneuvering their way through an intricate parade routine down hot-to-the-touch streets they’d never seen before. The color guard, bedecked in band-box hats and clingy camisoles, never relaxed their smiles or smeared their lipstick as they waved flags, danced and spun props while dodging among their instrumental peers.

I don’t know how they did it.

Saturday, they awoke to do it all over again–but this time at the Waseca Marching Classic, where there is photographic evidence (in the form of an electronic bank sign) that it was 89 degrees as they marched in formation, playing at top volume and dressed to impress.

To their credit, every youth involved performed his or her best, with the result being parade championships (in their designated divisions as well as over all participating bands) on both occasions for the WHS crew.  Their director appropriately urged humility, reminding them that every other band was struggling with the same conditions and had worked equally as hard to please the intrepid crowds who seemed undeterred by the last (?) blast of summer.

The WHS boys’ soccer team, meanwhile, continued its winning ways in a hot-hot-hot contest Thursday evening at Trojan Field. With white uniforms soaked through with sweat and literally sticking to every square inch of skin, our skilled squad out-kicked and out-maneuvered the Marshall players, moving with such speed and strategy that the orange set appeared not to know what had hit them.

With a 13-0-1 record (as of 9/26/17), our state-ranked boys’ soccer team rolled to another victory on an evening when the local temperature peaked at 84 degrees, and most spectators were sporting sandals and shorts while sipping ice-cold soft drinks in the stands.

Earlier that same day, when the sun stood higher in the sky, the WHS boys’ and girls’ cross country teams turned in gritty second-place finishes at the Jackson County Central-hosted meet at the Loon Lake golf course. Running a 5K at race-pace up hills, across uneven fields and through valleys is another task not made easier by warm conditions. Cups of ice water met the athletes past the finish line, where dripping sweat and reddened faces told the tale of the effort and perseverance that were readily on display. (Incidentally, at a meet on Sept. 26, when the high was only about 60, the WHS boys won handily with a low, low score of 23!!)

Sweating their way to success was the name of the game for these busy students last week. It’s inspiring to see teens tackle challenges set before them while employing discipline, determination and drive from start to finish.

But summer’s heat? Time to chill out.