DENMARK, Wis. (NBC 26) — Some teams reward their top players with helmet stickers. Others give out the game ball. This season, Denmark High School is starting a new, more unique tradition.
Each Tuesday, the Vikings' four players of the week each get to take a swing at "The Rock," a one-ton granite boulder that sits right outside Denmark's field.
"It's pretty metaphorical but it's also an actual rock so that's our mantra of the year," senior linebacker/fullback Kenny Satori said.
"I've swung at it a couple times and it's fun every time," senior lineman Owen DeGrand said.
"The Rock" was taken from a nearby quarry. After players missed out on several valuable team bonding experiences last season due to COVID-19, head coach Tom Neuman said he wanted to find something new to bring the team together.
He said the idea was inspired by UW-Whitewater. The Division III powerhouse has used the slogan "Pound the Rock" for years.
"It all goes back to the Stonemasons," Neuman explained. "It's not the 101st blow that splits the rock. It's the 100 that came before it."
A reminder to the team to play not only for themselves, but for others that make up the past and future of the program.
"It comes down to this: The ones that came before us and the ones that came after," DeGrand explained. "So it's the kids that don't have the experience. They have never been in this spot for a conference championship. And we are. So now it's up to us to bring it back for them."
"That's kind of the mentality I wanted these guys to take," Neuman said. "Come to practice every day, work their hardest.
"There's going to be adversity that's as big and as heavy as that rock. But if we keep hitting it, then we can get through anything."
The Vikings have a chance to claim their first conference championship since 2007. They play arch-rival Luxemburg-Casco Friday night. If the Spartans win, they win the North Eastern Conference outright. If the Vikings win, the two teams will share the conference title.
The game will be televised on Sports Showdown. Coverage starts Friday at 7:00 p.m. on WACY TV-32.