Spartan swimmers plus spaghetti equals LSC titleThe following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
By: By Don Leighton, Superior Telegram
Achieving success in any team sport requires teamwork, positive chemistry, contributions from everyone and a coach that can form a cohesive unit that is more concerned with team accomplishment than with individual accolades.
This perfectly describes this season’s Superior High School girls swim and dive team as it worked together to realize success by winning its second straight Lake Superior Conference championship, which could not have been achieved without outstanding athletes striving for the same goal: to be the best in the LSC.
The Spartans worked as a team and combined their talents to defeat Proctor-Hermantown, 349-320. With their help, Superior is currently in second place behind Ashland by four points in the LSC All-Sports standings.
Success in any endeavor does not come over night. Hard work, determination and years of practice are necessary to succeed in sports, school, business and life. What these girls accomplished in no small feat. Many on this team are repeat champions and look forward to next season for a three-peat. If SHS coach George Lehman follows the same recipe of the past two seasons, a separate trophy case may be needed to hold the hardware.
Many teams have the talent to win and be great, but without someone at the helm to mesh the individual talents into the well-oiled machine needed to win, underachievement is common. Lehman does his job to place the girls in a position to succeed and oversees the chemistry “melting pot” that is so important.
One of this year’s captains, Emily Aller, recalls a perfect example at the annual sleepover at the high school. The team and Lehman were watching a chick flick called “The Last Song.”
“Every year we sleep on the pool deck and watch a movie,” Aller said. “People were talking, laughing and being loud when coach Lehman, who was sitting in a chair intently watching the movie goes, ‘shhh’ because he was so interested in the movie. He even started to cry. It was very sentimental and funny at the same time.”
I will have to get this movie, and watch it alone in my man cave.
Kelsey Hansen is another captain who has some great thoughts on her team.
“On the day of an away meet, the captains fill up a jug from the 1970s with ‘Spartan Fast Water’ from our pool,” Hansen said. “After warm-ups, we pour the water into the lanes we will be swimming in at the opposing pool. I’ve always enjoyed this tradition because no other team does something like this in our area and it always gives us a sense of home.”
Hansen also revealed the team has a spaghetti feed before every meet.
“We like to think that the carbs helps us perform, but in reality it’s just another excuse to hang out together,” Hansen said. “The conference win this year meant a lot to me. After losing a talented group of seniors, nobody, including ourselves had any expectations. We were definitely the underdogs this season.”
Senior captain Laura Eisenmann added, “We lost 11 seniors from last season and our expectations were not too high. Coach Lehman got the most out of us and was always positive. Even when we did not swim to our potential, he told us not to worry about it and told us we would have another chance to get it right. Our team was so close, and that is why we were successful.”
At the LSC championships the Spartans won both freestyle relays with the foursome of Tori Johnson, Emily Aller, Grace Elonen and Kelsey Hansen. Hansen led the team with two individual firsts in the 200 and 100 freestyle events. Johnson won the 50 free sprint and swam a strong second in the backstroke and SHS divers had their best meet of the year with Kayla Bedard and Taylor Christner both earning all-conference honors.
“Nikki Hansen (breast stroke) and Morgan Peterson (diving) showed big improvements through the year and helped provide the margin of victory,” Lehman said. “Every girl on our team was a big part of this championship.”
Kelsey Hansen added, “It’s one of the best feelings in the world when you accomplish something that no one thought possible. It was truly a team effort from the divers to the swimmers who only score a few points. We couldn’t have done it without everyone working together, and that is what makes the win really special.
“We really bonded as a team this year and I can tell you I have 28 other sisters in the pool. Without this bond, I don’t think we could have accomplished what we did. Coach Lehman is one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had. He has pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go and sets high expectations that you have to work hard for. He is very knowledgeable of the sport and tells you what you have to work on to get better. However, it’s never a dull moment with Coach, because he always has a good story up his sleeve.”
Success equals togetherness, hard work, determination, chemistry, a will to win, and pushing yourself farther than though possible. Each member of the SHS championship team will be successful in life because of lessons learned at home and those taught by coach Lehman in the pool.
Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com