By Kevin Eickman
With school out and nothing but the summer ahead, many Milford students are enjoying the respite from the rigors of high school. For a select group in Milford however, this simply is not the case. In its first year in existence, the SWEAT, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Eagerness, Attitude and Tenacity, program is helping to develop the leadership skills of various students.
While many are star varsity athletes at Milford, others are just regular students looking to improve their overall leadership skills. One of the key elements of the program is developing the students physically as well as mentally. “We all thought that a healthy body is a key element in developing the type of person that will be successful in the future,” said program facilitator Patrick Helmick. “It is about developing the student in all areas, not just one or two.”
While Helmick is part of the program there are many others involved. Ed Evans was the first to approach Helmick about the program, based on a conversation he and former Milford wrestling coach had engaged in. In addition some elements were taken from the program that former Milford principal Dr. David Carter used to run at Southern Delaware Physical Therapy. Former Milford all-everything Marques Jones interjected with regards to the guest speaker element of the program as well. “Once we had the template was set, it was all about putting it together,” Helmick stated. “Having support from Shawn Snyder and the rest of the administration and coaches has been instrumental to the successful launch of the program.”
Although the physical training that takes place is important, a big plus has been the the guest speakers that have been brought in to address the SWEAT program participants. In July, with the pavement blistering, Milford graduate and current Mount Union student athlete Octavion Wilson was the guest speaker. In his just completed sophomore year, Wilson was a football player on the Division III National Championship team. On this day however, he was back home in his hometown talking with current students. “It is great to have the opportunity to address people that are walking in the same shoes I have traveled in,” Wilson said. “To be able to share the possibilities that are out there for them, to really help them to buy into themselves, that’s just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Speaking with current Milford football coach Shaun Strickland, he was particularly thrilled with the speech Wilson gave. “As I was listening to OT speak, I actually became a bit jealous that I didn’t have a chance to coach him,” Strickland said. “When you hear his story, when you listen to what he is about, you can’t help but walk away impressed.”
In addition to Wilson, other speakers have included Devon Reed, a former college baseball player at College of Charleston and now accountant at Luff and Associates. Another speaker was retired Airman Brian Clarke, now Special Education Coordinator at Milford High School. The third speaker was Milford alum turned pro-triathlete, Carly Johann. Helmick believes that having the speakers is a key component to the program. “When we listen to these people, who have overcome so many obstacles and are living such quality lives, everyone begins to understand that they can do it too,” he stated.
Senior Kate Melvin, a standout field hockey player, is a participant in the SWEAT program this year. With her final year in front of her, Melvin is mapping out a career in nursing once she concludes her studies at Milford. “This is a real great program, it’s really fun to come out here and everyone else is pushing each other to get better,” Melvin said. “The speakers have been fantastic, they really show you that there is more to life than sports.”
Carlito Natal, junior running back and defensive back on the Milford football team as well as track athlete is another fan of the SWEAT program. “It’s great to come out here with everyone and just enjoy the day, it’s a great way to become a better person,” he stated.
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