As the girls in the Marysville basketball and softball programs arrived at Chrysler Beach Wednesday morning, an eager coach and a challenging obstacle course awaited them.
Ryan Rathje had gotten there long before 7 a.m. to set up 30-pound boxes of rubber, 5-gallon buckets of water, 50-pound bags of sand, hurdles, tires, and more for his athletes to carry and maneuver through.
And when the girls showed up, they seemed just as excited. They were ready to work.
“I like how it’s early. It’s refreshing in the morning and gets your day off to a good start,” senior Kara Miller said. “I like how it’s fun conditioning.”
Wednesday was the last day of their summer workout series, the Marysville Breakfast Club. Every Monday and Wednesday morning for the last couple of months, they would get together to train and compete whether it was in the weight room, on the track, or at the park. Miller said one day they even played football.
“I think learning to push yourself is one of the things that’s great about sports, but it's hard to learn unless you really take steps toward doing that,” Rathje said. “Some days we go to the weight room, some days we go to the park and make a Ninja Warrior kind of course, and some days we go to the track. A few weeks ago we all brought our bikes in and did a bike workout.
“We just try to have fun and work on their athleticism and work ethic and I think it’s just fun to get them together.”
Rathje has been hosting the Breakfast Club for nearly his entire 20-year coaching career, saying he was inspired after reading about Michael Jordan and his Bulls teammates who would work out in the mornings.
“I’m really impressed by these girls for getting up early and getting out there on their summer break, ready to work hard,” Rathje said. “I always want to give them an opportunity to do that and I’m always impressed by their willingness to do it.”
More than 20 girls participated in Wednesday's obstacle course, ranging from sixth to 12th grade. They split into two teams to see who’d finish first.
It started with carrying boxes of rubber, buckets of water, and bags of sand. From there they crawled under caution tape, swam in the water, jumped over hurdles, and climbed through tires.
And they did all of that after running two miles and completing a bodyweight workout.
“When I got to the hurdles, I could barely lift my legs,” Miller said. “I think it helps a lot because it’s bonding too and having fun while getting better. I was racing against Avery [Wolters] the first time which was really fun because it’s competitive but also enjoyable. I like jumping into the water and racing around too.”
As a reward for their discipline and effort throughout the summer, they all gathered for breakfast at assistant coach Ryan Biewer’s house where he and his wife Jennifer had nearly every breakfast food imaginable waiting for the team.
“This year was really nice of the Biewers to have breakfast at their house, so I just wanted to thank them for that,” Rathje said.
And many of the supplies used in the obstacle course came from Blue Water R&B Seal Coat, which is owned by Rathe’s brother, Eric.
“A lot of the stuff is what we use every day at work, so he lets us use it and bring it in so that’s really cool,” Rathje said. “And Marysville Car Care let us bring in tires.”
With a full summer of training and a lot of community support, these Vikings will be ready as they head into their upcoming seasons.