There are many aspects to building a dynasty in team sports.
From quality coaching to the creation of an atmosphere that attracts top athletes, various elements can help propel a team to the top of their game.
The Oak Bay High track and field team, winners of nine provincial championships in the past 10 years, appear to have a secret weapon as well.
They shovel manure-laced compost together every spring.
“Everybody works hard on it. It’s good team-bonding,” Grade 12 discus and shotput specialist Riley Shew says of the team’s primary fundraiser. “It’s like a workout and it contributes to training.”
Residents around the neighbourhood have become used to the pungent aroma that takes over the school parking lot for one weekend in early spring.
This year, manure madness happens April 12 to 14. That’s when student-athletes will once again climb atop huge piles of the brown mixture and shovel it into bags for customers who pre-order the stuff for their gardens.
The legwork happens in the leadup to the big, stinky weekend.
Athletes looking to raise money to defray travel costs pound the pavement securing orders for the bags of compost. Last year the team travelled to a meet in Hawaii and in 2013, Disneyworld is on the competition agenda.
“It’s hard work and not fun while you’re doing it, but in the end it pays off,” says Grade 12 middle distance runner Emma Thomson. “Hawaii was so much fun. We got to become closer as a team, but we also got to travel someplace fun.”
Mike Sheffer, who assisted former Oak Bay coach Keith Butler for years, is in his first full year at the reins, after Butler moved up to coach with the University of Victoria Vikes full time.
The compost sale? “That’s always been my big, ugly, steaming baby,” Sheffer says with a laugh.
Last year more than 10,000 bags – they weigh, on average, about 16 kilograms each – were sold, stuffed and delivered to customers by students and their families. That’s 24 full dump truck loads, Sheffer says.
“The minimum they have to sell is 50 bags, but we averaged almost 200 bags per student. It beats selling chocolates and books, it’s something you can use right away.”
Bags cost $6 each or $25 for five and orders are being taken now. To order, send an email to email@example.com or call Sheffer at 250-598-3361.