It was early January, and the most recent edition of The Woodinville Weekly was out. An article written by yours truly included the following paragraph:
“For the Woodinville Boys swim team, circumstances and limited resources have neutered this season of much of its motivation. With a shortage of participants, the Falcons enter each meet virtually doomed to defeat. Stacked against other teams with much larger rosters, it’s a numbers game, as Woodinville’s 0-3 record attests.”
Woodinville coach Annie Price was also quoted as saying “The morale of the team is a little low when you feel like you’re never winning an event. It has even hit me hard a couple times. And I look in the mirror and think ‘Annie what are you doing?’”
As they gathered for practice the next morning, the Falcon swimmers fumed.
“Your last article gave the boys fire,” Price said. “I think when you show that competition is a good thing, and call them out so to speak, it can bring forth new levels of determination.”
Despite being vastly outnumbered in virtually every meet, the Woodinville squad adopted the rallying cry of the movie “300.” In the film, King Leonidas leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian “god-King” Xerxes and his invading army of 300,000 soldiers.
“We toyed with the idea of making fake t-shirts with the 300 image and with our boys in the image,” Price said. “But I’m not sure that the District would have approved of the gore behind it. But it did cross our minds during the season.”
Even without t-shirts, the new battle cry worked. Of the 15 boys on the team, 13 of them ended up qualifying for the KingCo tourney, and an astonishing 10 of them qualified for Districts and State. Woodinville finished in 6th place at Districts, and swimmers broke six school records at State.
“The percentage of accomplishment is so much greater than the size of the team,” Price said.
Among the success stories was Ben Whitty, who shattered his personal best by swimming a 100-yard breast stroke in 58 seconds. And Max Emerick, whose unwavering leadership led the team. And Josh Scheck, who gained admiration by constantly pushing himself to work harder and harder. And Scott Evans, who finished 6th in State in the diving competition, despite being just a sophomore.
“I know what the boys are capable of,” Price said. “It’s a little bit discouraging to see that you’ve got a low numbered team, but like I said early in the season. we weren’t focused on dual meets. We were focused on doing great at KingCo, District and State -- and we did. We’re a closing team. We’ve got fast boys, we have hard-working boys and we have determined boys. Our dual meets might have been small potatoes, but when it came to the post season when it really counted to put our name on the board, we did it.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the boys that I get the opportunity to coach,” she said. “To be a part of such a strong group is an honor. It’s fun and motivating and an eye-opening experience. We were the few and the mighty. Just the like the 300.”