The Nordic ski team from Southwest High School in Minneapolis was preparing for a sectional in February when the coaching staff recognized a serious problem. Libby Ellis, the team’s best and the state’s second-ranked skier, had not competed in enough races to qualify for sectionals. To compound the issue further, Ellis was in Norway. Tony Aspholm, the coach at South High School – Southwest’s arch rival – learned about Ellis’ dilemma and wanted to help. Aspholm organized his team quickly for an impromptu meet with Southwest. This was significant because Aspholm’s South High team had competed earlier that same day. The last-minute competition would give Ellis the necessary number of races to compete in sectionals. There was still the problem of getting Ellis home from Norway. Ellis arrived in Newark at 2 p.m. only to find out her connection to Minneapolis had been cancelled. She finally landed in Minneapolis at 9:30 p.m. and immediately headed to Theodore Wirth Park. There, her Southwest High teammates and her opponents from South High stood ready. The competition began at 10:30 p.m. with a temperature of minus 4 degrees. The two teams completed the meet less than 12 hours prior to the start of sectionals. Ellis went on to win at sectionals and qualified for the state meet. Sacrifice is giving up something for something greater. In this case, the South and Southwest teams saw something great in Libby Ellis. Their sacrifice validated her victory; proving that even individual achievements require a team effort.
The Minneapolis South High School Nordic Ski Team is being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.