At Southwestern, players that win a league title in their respective sport earn a special, three-dimensional letter, for their letterman jackets to commemorate the occasion.
Unfortunately, not many soccer players had earned that 3-D award over the past decade or so.
Not until this past season, at least.
Under the guidance of boys coach Mark Sleggs, this year's much-deserving Post-Journal co-coach of the year, 23 Trojans attained that exceedingly rare prize after capturing their first Division 1 crown in 12 years.
And to think, it all began with a little change in perspective.
"I went to listen to Don Meyer (Sleggs' friend and mentor, and the second-winningest coach in NCAA men's college basketball history) in North Harmony at the United Methodist Church about three years ago," Sleggs recalled. "He was talking about finding a third place to be, besides work and home, and looking at life with a different perspective."
Meyer, he said, called it, "Hunting from a different tree stand."
Sleggs wrote the line down in his notebook and thus was born the 2012 Southwestern Trojans' team motto.
"Now I'm not an avid hunter or anything," Sleggs said with a laugh, "but when things aren't going right, in teaching or in coaching, you've got to change your treestand. ... Get a new perspective on things."
After transforming a two-win team into a consistent contender in each of his first three seasons as the boys head coach, much had already changed, but the type of success Sleggs was most interested in (namely, hosting a home playoff game and winning a league title) remained elusive.
So Sleggs, who at the end of this season was named the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 coach of the year, altered not only the way he approached the game, but the way his team did as well, and that made all the difference.
Armed with a talented cast of experienced players - from forward Tanner Hoose to goaltender Eric Priester and everywhere in between - a newish, slightly-altered system of play that provided his squad with a new view of the game and a coach that was able to make adjustments both on the fly and in between games in order to combine it all into one, well-oiled machine, the Trojans enjoyed their best season since the beginning of the new millennium.
"I had told the boys in September that one of my hopes was for them to leave high school with a league title," Sleggs said, "We'd been waiting a long time for this and it was a long time coming. But it was well worth the wait. I'm just so happy for them."
In a sign of things to come, the Trojans began the season with a win over Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 foe Jamestown - a squad that over the years had made easy work of the Trojans 4-1. From there, Southwestern went unbeaten in 14 of its next 15 games, along the way capturing the Division 1 title with a near perfect 10-0-1 record.
Twice Southwestern topped rival Olean and three times it defeated always-difficult Fredonia - the last victory over the Hillbillies coming during the Trojans' first-ever home playoff game in thrilling fashion, 3-2 in penalty kicks. It wasn't until the Section 6 Class B-2 quarterfinals against Tonawanda (the eventual sectional champion) that Southwestern's season was ended, 1-0, in overtime.
"Looking at the competition and how tough our league was, those games could've gone either way," Sleggs said, "that's what makes (winning the league) so special. Fredonia and Olean both have great soccer traditions. We're just starting to build ours."
Well, they're certainly on the right track, and with Sleggs at the helm, more of those special 3-D letters are bound to be in the Southwestern soccer players' future.