The Eureka College Red Devils call upon their rich history to unite under one common goal. #SwingTheAx is the rallying cry for the student-athetes at Eureka College, but it also unites their fans, alumni, friends and student population.
"#SwingTheAx is how I want everyone affiliated with our student-athletes to think," Director of Athletics Steve Thompson said when he rolled the initiative out to the student-athletes in 2014. "It seems so simple, but it is much deeper to me, our student-athletes, and I hope our alums."
Ronald Wilson Reagan, a 1932 Eureka College graduate and the 40th President of the United States, returned to campus to deliever the commencement address in 1957. Near the end of his remarks, Reagan said, "You today are smarter than we were. You are better educated and better informed than we were 25 years ago, and that is part of your heritage. You enjoy these added benefits because, more than 100 years ago near this very spot, a man plunged an ax into a tree and said; Here we will build a school for our children."
"When I interviewed for the job in November 2013 I came across the Reagan speech and that line stuck in my head. It seemed like a great way to bring all of us together. Utilize Eureka's rich history and give everyone a rallying cry, bringing everyone together," Thompson continued.
#SwingTheAx was then adapted with the parable of a young woodsman chopping down trees.
#SwingTheAx applies to everyone involved. Student-athletes dedicating themselves in the classroom and in competition, faculty and staff working directly with our student-athletes to help them achieve their goals, and alumni and friends returning to campus for different events. Everything each of us do for the betterment of Eureka College Athletics is a swing of the ax and will work towards knocking the tree down.
Swing the Ax
A young man needed to chop down a tree to create a clearing for the mighty railroad to pass through. If the railroad would come through his hometown, it promised to bring prosperity for his family and friends. However, the only way to bring down the trees would be the one tool he had, an ax. The man started swinging the ax with all of his might over and over again. He kept count the number of swings in his head. The more he swung that ax the more frustrated he got. He couldn't see the results after each strike and didn't see the immediate progress. He didn't know if he was gaining any ground or not. It seemed like a daunting task that would never be completed.
While taking a much needed break, an older man approached and asked if he could be of assistance. The older man wanted to take a swing at the large tree. The younger man told him he'd hit the tree with his ax ninety-nine times with no luck and he felt like giving up. The young man didn't see the harm in humoring rhe older man and handed him his ax. The older man got into position and with one mighty swing, the giant tree came crashing down.
The young man was in disbelief and looked at the older man as if to demand an explanation of how he knocked the tree down with one swing. He thought to himself, it must have been a trick or a special technique the man used to finally take down the tree. He confronted the old man, "I've been swinging that ax and hitting that tree for hours, ninety-nine times I've hit that tree and nothing happened. You took one swing and the tree fell after hitting it just once. How did you do that? You must tell me your secret."
The older man responded with a simple sentence before walking away. "Young man, it was not the hundredth swing of the ax that brought the tree down, it was the ninety-nine swings before it."