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Machine Shed Mantra

Senior football dads keep the spirit alive
Todd Linderbaum, Terry Ira and Doug Krutzfeldt work on tearing down the previous week’s message to the Spartans’ competition on Sunday, Oct. 22, on the south corner of Solon Heating and Air Conditioning’s property north of Solon, off Highway 1. (photo by Jeff Hess)

SOLON– The “Machine shed mantra” has been a part of Solon football tradition since 1985, when Maury Miller, Coach Kevin Miller’s father, scrawled “Bear Season” on the building in reference to a rivalry game between the Solon Spartans and the West Branch Bears.
The original intent was to elevate the level of competition and has done so, for the last 32 years.
On Sunday, Oct. 22, as door banners were being decorated by parents and siblings of Spartan football seniors along the sidewalk in front of the former middle school in Solon, the garage at Spartan senior parent Todd Linderbaum’s home became a den of creativity.
Huddled together with a cooler of refreshments, the creative juices were flowing as Doug Krutzfeldt, Terry Ira, Todd Linderbaum, Kyle Harris and Tim Wegmann were busy checking spellings and shearing away with scissors to produce the latest message to adorn the two 16-foot garage door panels, screwed to the side of the machine shed south of Solon on the east side of Highway 1, that serve as the backdrop for the weekly football catchphrase.
The letters are actually fabricated from x-ray films donated to the cause by the Solon Veterinary Clinic and cut into the shape of letters by the volunteer senior parents during the brainstorming session.
The nostalgia of the signage is allowed to continue courtesy of Rosanne Ockenfels, the current property owner for the sign south of town.
In the last four years, the work load on the Solon senior parents responsible for the slogans has doubled, so to speak, as a orange and black enclosed trailer, serving as a larger billboard, greets Spartan competitors arriving in Solon from the north. The trailer sits on the southwest corner of Solon Heating and Air Conditioning’s property on the west side of Highway 1.
This year’s group of senior parents, responsible for such anecdotes on the north side of town as, “Solon football tonight’s menu ‘Stang meat” and “Solon football the team your mama warned you about,” includes volunteer parents: Tim Wegmann, Kyle Harris, Doug Krutzfeldt, Todd Linderbaum, Terry Ira, Landan Rucholz, Brian Brandt, Kyle Stahle, Brad Gehrke and Tim Yahr.
“It’s kind of the tradition. The senior dads take this over,” Todd Linderbaum, father of Tyler Linderbaum commented. “It’s volunteer.”
“I’ve been just a part of it since Logan and Connor were in it,” he added.
The garage is where the creativity begins on Sunday afternoons, typically around 4:30 p.m., sometimes before, sometimes days before, it depends on whom you listen to.
“We brainstorm them,” Linderbaum commented when asked where the ideas come from.
“Every once in awhile, one will come to you just straight off,” interjected Kyle Harris, senior Kendrick Harris’ father.
“Every once in awhile, like I texted today, any ideas?” Linderbaum added. “But normally we just sit here. We are sitting down contemplating what it’s going to be.”
“You are seeing it in its rare form,” Tim Wegmann, Spencer and Zach Wegmann’s father, and Tim Krutzfeldt chimed, in unison, setting the last of the letters out on the garage floor to check content and spelling.
“Tim (Wegmann) came in this week and said, ‘Axe the Vikings.’ We all said ‘that’s it.’” Linderbaum grinned.
“It takes a couple days,” Krutzfeldt added with a smile, shaking his head.
“Oh no.” Terry Ira, Luke’s father said.
“What makes a better story?” Wegmann chuckled, and everyone joined in. “If our wives are reading, it takes at least three hours.”
The conversations offering inspiration for the slogans find their origins in the discussion of football history, the occasional glory day revisited, the exchange of hunting stories and the discussion of Spartan performances before splitting the sign team into groups to tape the letters onto their respective backdrops.
Whether three hours or in a divine epiphany, the phrases have served as an inspiration for articles, news stories, athletic performances and as a bonding agent for generations of Spartan faithful.
Phrases south of town, like “Take down the Crown,” “Crush the Chiefs” and “Cast out the Demons,” have been used in many sports stories touting the Spartans’ progression to their perfect regular season record of 9-0.
Some have served as a game plan, of sorts, for success. “Explosive “O” dominant “D” beat Osky.” Even motivating Spartan players like the slogan north of town, “Solon football ICOE In Control Of Everything.”
Some even attempted to serve as a warning of the Spartans’ defensive success to visiting teams: “Spartan Stadium = no fly zone.”
Steeped in tradition, like so many things in football, Solon maintains its pride.
It seemed somehow prophetic the opening week of the postseason for the Solon football team that the Spartans were urged to “Axe the Vikings” and were reminded, “Our Power come from Hard Work and our Desire comes from Tradition.”