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Runners keep school spirit alive

Waupaca cross country team runners Mark Reinke, Ian Sherman, Sienna Timm and Abby Higginson will take turns carrying the Spirit Ball Friday, Oct. 6, during the Homecoming parade in Waupaca. The Spirit Ball is the team’s way of showing school spirit at Homecoming activities. Greg Seubert Photo

Spirit Ball to make annual appearance

By Greg Seubert

It only appears in public once a year and when it does, it’s a big deal.

“It” is the Spirit Ball, which will make its annual appearance during Waupaca High School’s Homecoming activities.

The Spirit Ball is a blue and white football that the school has used to promote school spirit for years.

The boys’ and girls’ cross country teams will carry the ball Friday, Oct. 6, during the Homecoming parade through downtown Waupaca and then bring it to the football game that night.

Senior Ian Sherman, a member of the Comets’ cross country team who is also on this year’s Homecoming court, is one of several runners that has carried the ball over the years.

“For me, it’s a sense of pure adrenaline coming from the ball and its history,” he said. “It’s been in our school for a very long time. It’s out for Homecoming and that’s it. It’s a very good way to spread school spirit. We don’t play football, but we run around with it. It’s a big deal.”

Never dropped

The Spirit Ball has never been dropped over the years, according to Sherman.

“It never touches the ground,” he said. “This ball has never been dropped. Nobody has ever dropped it. There is a lot of pressure on this thing. When you raise the ball up and everybody starts cheering, the adrenaline starts flowing and it’s excitement. It’s better than a race.”

After dealing with low participation numbers for years, the Comets are in the midst of a successful season. Junior Sienna Timm recently set a new girls’ 5,000-meter school record, while the boys are turning in faster times than last year.

“I started in fourth grade with the Mighty Milers led by Mrs. (Mary) Feldt,” Sherman said. “That got me interested and I stuck with it. I started out hating running, but as I kept going, my love for the sport grew and I strive to become a better runner.”

Sherman also competes in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for the Comets’ boys’ track team.

“I’m honestly going to miss the team aspect,” he said. “You can run for the rest of your life if you’re dedicated to it. It can be an individual sport with a team aspect. You’re racing against yourself. It helps me stay in shape and I’ve built some good friendships out of this. That’s the part that I’m going to miss the most when I’m done.”

There’s a big difference in the two sports, Sherman said.

“To me, they’re two totally different sports,” he said. “With cross country, it’s one race and you’re done. With track, you have all of the events going on. The atmosphere for track can be better because you’re seen at all times during your competition. In cross country, you are on your own. It’s only you and your success is on you.”

Sherman is looking forward to spending a little more time with the Spirit Ball.

“I’m just amazed that the school has held onto this thing for so long,” he said. “Anyone else would look at it and just see a ratty old leather football. To us, we see Comet spirit and Comet tradition. It’s an honor to be a part of that legacy.”

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