The Skyline High School weight room commemorates the accomplishments of its teams and chronicles the success of talented alumni. In various places you will find inspirational quotes or stories hung on the walls.

And in the midst of the barbells and hardware paying homage to the football powerhouse is evidence of a commitment to more than winning football games.

This year's team hung two pieces of paper in its locker room that show a commitment to their own education and the success of their teammates.

They put in writing two goals — one belongs to the varsity players, the other to the Eagles' junior varsity squad. They were agreed to by every player on each team after a team building exercise that included a four-hour presentation by a guest speaker.

"Everybody's goal is to win a state championship," said Steve Marlowe, who is Skyline's assistant football coach and the school's athletic director. "But we also wanted them to have a goal in community service and a goal in academics."

The players from each team separately and, interestingly, came up with very similar goals. The junior varsity team agreed that every member would achieve and maintain a 3.2 GPA, while the varsity team's players said each one of them would maintain a 3.0 GPA. The state requires a 2.0 for any athlete to play sports.

"Everyone signed it, and it's hanging in our locker room as one of our goals," he said. "Every year we set three team goals and three personal goals."

But usually these goals sit in folders in the weight room and are only revisited when a coach or players take the time to do so. This year they're hanging on the wall for everyone to see.

I love to hear how coaches try to build camaraderie and team spirit. I love the really creative, even maybe a little New Age adventures. I even love the philosophy behind the activities.

So I was very interested to hear that Skyline's football team engaged in some team building that relied on the efforts of individual players in order for the team to succeed. If one guy doesn't make grades, the team doesn't reach its goal.

The players knew that a B average would be easy for some players to reach. For others, it would be a daily struggle. So, with the help of their coaches, they set up a safety net made up of, what else, each other.

"We have peer tutors so when someone is struggling, another guy on the team can help him out," said Marlowe. "We set some time aside during the week for players to get help from each other. It helps with camaraderie, helps them have a friendly, helpful attitude toward each other and helps them think about others."

Despite always emphasizing the importance of having athletic, academic and social goals, Marlowe said this year's team is the first to sign on for an all-or-nothing ride. No one can really relish making the grade if every single one of the 68 varsity and junior varsity players don't earn that same accomplishment.

"We've never done it as a team," he said. "We've never posted it."

Mid-term grades came out on Friday. Marlowe said he checked the computer and only one player is struggling. He will announce after practice on Monday whether or not they met their team goals. The reward of course, will be the satisfaction of hard work and reaching a milestone together, oh, and maybe an ice cream treat provided by the coaches.

"Just a little something to let them know we care about them," Marlowe said of the sweets.

And while some players will know right away there are other benefits to the situation they've created, others will need time to understand both what they've done for themselves and for others.

"This is where they learn to help each other, to fight for each other and to rely on each other," Marlowe said. "It's pretty neat."


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