Bringing The Hammer

By Rachel Bell

Coach Haddy holds the team back before they storm the field before the game at Solon on Aug 26. Senior Jack Cochrane leads with the sledgehammer in hand.
Coach Haddy holds the team back before they storm the field before the game at Solon on Aug 26. Senior Jack Cochrane leads with the sledgehammer in hand. Photos by Emma Klinkhammer.

 

From the stands, it’s hard to see what’s written across it.

However, inside the football huddle, the words inscribed on the sledgehammer are preached from the coach’s soapbox.

He speaks with profound enthusiasm, the hammer somewhat of a guideline for the speech.

Yet it’s these small symbolic gestures that create a winning team–a team with its eyes focused on a championship.

Each week, the sledgehammer lives a new life. Midway through the week, especially hardworking players are nominated to receive the honor of carrying it. Many factors go into the decision, “but especially who has the most energy all week,” said senior Tristan Wirfs. Work ethic, leadership, brotherhood, desire, and sacrifice are all on the coaches’ minds as they look over the week’s candidates.

“The winner eventually goes to the player who best personifies the traits written on the hammer,” said Coach Matt Haddy.

Once the week’s recipient is announced, the sledgehammer begins its new journey. On Friday nights, it leads the team out onto the field, held by the week’s winner. “It’s a symbol that I think the players and the team in general will take a lot of pride in,” said Head Coach Lance Pedersen. Even as the game wraps up and the team heads home, the hammer’s journey is not yet over. The recipient brings the hammer to every practice of the week until a new player is announced, and it is then handed over.

The idea came from one of Pedersen’s common sayings, “Be the hammer and not the nail,” implying that it’s better to hit someone else than to be hit. After hearing this for a while, Coach Haddy purchased a sledgehammer, painted it, and wrote the words “edge,” “brothers,” and “1-0.” As a staff, it was decided to be passed out to a deserving team member on a weekly basis.

Ending at a recent high last season, the team carried their motto, “find an edge,”  from the past year back into this fall. This, along with the 1-0 theory, drive the team towards success. No game is more important than the next, but if you go 1-0 for 14 consecutive times, then good things will happen. Players are encouraged to find an edge that will make them better than they were the day before and better than the teams they may play in future competitions. Huddles break on “brothers,” and the team goes on their way either after practice or on to the game ahead of them. The sledgehammer signifies all of this, and then some.

Although it’s just one small, but heavy, object, the sledgehammer symbolizes much more to the to the team than the words on it. It’s an incentive to practice harder than before, something for players to take pride in, and a tradition new to Mount Vernon that will hopefully carry on for years to come.