The dense fog, light mist and below-average temperatures in Evanston on the morning of Thursday, June 26, hardly constituted what is typically viewed as "beach weather."
Unless, of course, you're a member of the Acumen Performance Group. APG's mission is to improve the teamwork, communication and mental toughness of their trainees using the same exercises and methods employed by United States Navy SEALs; in their minds, any morning is ripe for hitting the sand and surf.
So when the Northwestern Football team reported to Ryan Field for its third scheduled day of summer weight-room workouts, the group was instead shuttled to Northwestern's north campus beach on Lake Michigan for a surprise team-building activity hosted by APG. There, Northwestern veterans entering their fifth year in the program were quickly placed on level footing with the freshmen who were in just their fifth day on campus, and together the Wildcats began forging a foundation of team-wide trust for the 2014 season.
For some returning 'Cats, this marked the third straight year in which they have been exposed to the lessons taught by APG. But each of them would certainly testify that the teamwork necessary to complete APG's mental toughness activities, and the ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, are skills in continuous need of fine-tuning.
Quickly finding themselves soaked and sandy on the chilly beachfront, the Wildcats went to work over the next two hours meeting challenge after challenge, from team log lifts to army-crawl relay races to pushup competitions. As the leaders of APG reminded them, the 'Cats would discover that each task was greatly facilitated when completed with great communication and in lock-step rhythm with the man next to them.
It's the kind of lesson that can only truly be learned through experience, and one that ensures that no matter the actual meteorological conditions on 12 Saturdays this fall, the 2014 'Cats will always be hitting the game field in beach weather.