MENOMINEE, (Mich.) – Watching the Maroons on the field, you would never know what they are facing off the field. It’s an unprecedented situation, which is still far from being resolved.
“We’ve been told that there has been asbestos spotted at rates where we can not be allowed in the high school building,” said Chad Brandt, the head coach for Menominee. “So, we are not allowed to be able to go get our coaching gear, helmets, shoulder pads, game uniforms. The only reason we have a lot of our game uniforms is because we had pictures that day. So, they wore them home and that was the last day that we were allowed in there.”
“There was a shock initially,” said Sam Larson, the athletic director at Menominee High School. “I think all parties involved just jumped right into ‘what do we have to do to get thing done?’ And how can we patch this together for our kids that is meaningful and we’re not wasting any of their time especially for our side of things as an athletic department?”
A state order has kept anyone from entering the school since August. A week before the kickoff to their 2022 season, the Maroons were forced to call an audible.
“We wanted to make sure we were able to have the M&M game and that came down to building a new trophy for the M&M game two days before the game was played,” said Larson. “So, we have over a 100 year old M&M game log trophy that exists and that’s currently locked inside of the high school.”
The Menominee School District provided an update Wednesday: while cleanup is moving forward, students won’t be returning to class in person in the near future.
“Our students have not been able to sit in class with other students other than on Zoom, which is awfully challenging, especially with kids these days. Mental Illness, mental awareness, they want to be around their friends. We do get to release here at practice and its a great bonding that way. But they also have friends that aren’t in football and they want to see them in class as well.”
Despite facing these unexpected challenges off the field, the Maroons are finding ways to move forward.
“People have been very helpful in that aspect but there is a lot of things that we still need that you don’t think of, like ‘why do we not have this?’ So, the challenge that way or the things that you don’t know until you don’t know. Like we need that for a road game, we need that on the sideline. There’s so much of that stuff that you go calling last minute and we don’t have time to get it.”
Overcoming these obstacles continues to show that with community support, anything is possible.
“We’ve had a lot of vendors that have stepped up to help us,” said Larson. “Nicolet Bank donated water bottles. Wright-Way Auto Body painted some helmets for us that we could get. Great Lakes Sports donated a lot of equipment to us. Even our youth football organization, the Menominee Hornets group, was really helpful in lending some of the things that we couldn’t acquire in that short amount of time.”
While the situation is anything but normal, the student athletes at Menominee are showing the strength Maroons are known for.
“We’re doing the best that we can with our kids and I’m just so proud of the students and players in all sports, the students who are not in sports for just being resilient the way they have been.”
“We’re really trying to patch things together just to make it work. But this is an experience for our football team and all of our athletic teams that’s unlike anything else that’s ever happened in the past. I really give our coaching staff a lot of credit our administration at our school district a lot of credit, and our kids probably the most credit for just being really adaptable and trying to make sure that they can get through this the best that they can.”
For updates on the clean-up situation at Menominee High School you can visit the Menominee Jr/Sr High School Facebook page.