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Swimming is amazing, isn’t it? We humans can slip the earthly bonds that tie us to solid ground and traverse water like some kind of crazy, all terrain animal. As far as we’re concerned, this ability makes us a collective king of the Animal Kingdom. You might be thinking, “But other animals who walk on land can swim too, what about them?” Well, ask any one of those competitors to open a jar and see how that plays out. Except apes. And chimps. And gibbons. Any other primates, really. Following that admittedly specific criteria, humans are at the tippy-top of the food chain, and do you know who’s at the very top of the very top? If you guessed the Sheridan Lady Broncs Swim Team, you’d be right.
This group of aquatically gifted gals takes the term “fighting tooth and nail” to a whole new level. Presumably because carrying around teeth as a motivator might send some mixed signals, Head Coach Brent Moore came up with a unique morale booster. At every meet, the team is accompanied by a 4-foot by 1-foot pine plank. When a Bronc scores a personal record, she proudly pounds a brass nail somewhere on the board, and then initials it. The Bronc logo, proudly emblazoned in the middle, is where state qualifiers make their mark. Said Moore, “After listening to Coach Sam Freas at a clinic and his theory of ‘hammer down,’ I realized the things we can do with that theme are endless.”
The board is the team’s overarching philosophy in tangible form. The coaches and swimmers alike believe that hammering a nail not only reinforces the gratification of personal achievement but also unifies the team as a whole. The sound and feel of the brass tack being driven into wood strengthens our Lady Broncs’ resolve, but also acts as a bit of an intimidating factor for competing teams. “It’s fun to watch other swimmers and coaches flinch at the sound of a nail being driven while we just sit there with a big grin,” Moore said. The effects it has aren’t just sensory, though; the coaches have happily noticed a surprising uptick in team morale and in turn an impressive amount of achievements to immortalize in wood. Though one of the smaller teams in Wyoming, Sheridan boasts 58 qualifying nails and 148 personal bests, more than competing with schools that have three to four times the athletes. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in determination and skill. We wish the Lady Broncs a successful season, one that we hope will need a bigger board by the end!
Special thanks to Chase McFadden, whose article served as our primary source of information for this piece.