WATERLOO — At first glance at its high school football team Friday night, you might have thought wow, there really is a big Norwegian influence in Decorah.
The Viking players were almost all blond. Well, the city is the home of Nordic Fest and the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum and … wait a minute. Decorah’s cheerleaders weren’t even close to being all blonde, nor were its fans in the grandstand at Memorial Stadium for the Vikings’ game against Waterloo East.
It turned out to be a lot of dye jobs and one of those team-bonding things. Someone could go back in time and pull out the phrase “Blondes have more fun,” but in this case that was the intention. It was for a team in the oh-so-serious-and-important game of football to, you know, have fun.
“We try to loosen each other up a little,” said Decorah Coach Pat Trewin, who also was a new blond after a lot of hair coloring was used on his city’s male population in the last week.
“I either won a bet or lost a bet.”
Trewin wouldn’t expand on exactly what the conditions were for him to agree on having a platinum team, saying “We won’t disclose our things here. We might get to see a team again that may want to get us back or something like that.”
But here’s the heart of it: The Vikings had a lot of stress in their first three games, and overcame all of it. Their coach saw a need for his players to, literally and figuratively, lighten up. All praise to coaches who recognize the value of helping players enjoy what they’re doing.
In Week 1, Decorah scored with 57 seconds left for a 19-18 win over then-Class 2A No. 1 Waukon.
In Week 2, the Vikings scored with 1:22 left for a 21-20 victory over Crestwood after trailing 20-7 in the fourth quarter.
Maybe Trewin needed to go blond because those hair-raisers were making his own hair turn gray. His actual reason, though, was to give his guys something to laugh about.
“It’s really about fun and camaraderie,” Trewin said, “to do something just a little different. A couple years ago we grew mustaches.”
His team could finally could exhale in a fourth quarter when it beat East 45-8 in a Class 3A District 3 matchup. He has plenty of good offensive players and a defense he said was “raring and ready to go” Friday.
Decorah being good in football is as common as its visitors raving about Mabe’s Pizza. The Vikings have a winning heritage that dates almost as far back as Vikings themselves. They have five state titles and 45 playoff wins. You may remember a former Decorah player by the name of Josey Jewell. The Denver Broncos appreciate you sending that linebacker their way.
However, the Vikings were 4-5 last season, so winning isn’t taken for granted. Getting off to a 4-0 start with a trio of gut-check triumphs has restored a bit of normalcy in northeast Iowa.
Decorah’s Joe Brockman turned relatively short passes into touchdown receptions of 59 and 67 yards at East. He was a team guy after the game when he said “I have to give it up to the offensive line and quarterback for letting me make those plays. We have a ton of playmakers. It just happened to be me today.”
Brockman had black hair until the last week. He looked about as unnatural a blond as a person can be. He said he needed two sessions of hair coloring that took a total of 90 minutes.
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“It’s a little different,” he said. “I get a lot of looks. But it’s a fun thing for the whole team.”
Maybe being Nordic blond really is more fun. Starting a season with four wins, though, is veldig moro. Translation: Very fun.
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