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New Rockets weight room gives athletes perspective

Posted at 9:01 PM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 13:58:22-04

NEENAH (NBC 26) — Sometimes the best way to appreciate a new opportunity is by flourishing through scarcity first.

Before there was a new Neenah High School or a new Neenah Rockets Stadium... there was a pandemic. And it hit the Rockets hard.

“We lost a number of athletes to COVID,” said Rockets Head Coach Steve Jung.

He said they're still recovering their numbers after a long hiatus of games.

“A lot of our kids didn't play a sport for a year and a half, and it's hard to come in here and grind and then there's no reward,” Jung said.

For Neenah athlete Connor Briones, that was the first year of his high school career.

“When I first started, we had our COVID year, so it was a little weird having to do it from home,” Briones said.

He said he started training with his team while in isolation by lifting sandbags from home that Coach Jung made for him and his teammates.

So, when the new high school stadium and weight room opened up for his senior year, it was something of a reward for his perseverance.

“No matter where I play, or like, what field I'll be on – I always play at my full potential and whatever I can do for the team. But this just makes it better for me,” Briones said of the new weight room.

He said the size isn't the best part, though it is a nice touch.

“It's like, it's huge; amazing. We have all we need," he said. "It's great.”

There's more than one kind of perspective. One comes with time. One comes from life experiences. Coach Jung said his students are great examples of that.

"A wide variety of people with completely different beliefs and ideas that all come together for the same common cause," Jung said. "I think that's what's great about sports."

Another type of perspective is a little more literal.

The weight room has a wide panel of south-facing windows overlooking the new stadium. Students get to watch the sun coming up as they lift.

“The yellow sunrise is really nice to see when it comes into the windows. And then sunset’s good to see when it comes down over the back of the field and just to go down the orange color,” Briones said.

Working together as a team is reward enough, according to Briones. But it doesn't hurt that he gets to do it in style now.

“It's just way cooler looking. To me. I love that aspect of it,” he said.