Wyatt Nef’s dream of a van started last winter.
The soon-to-be senior at Toledo High School was in a physical education class with football teammate Brien McNaught. Nef began telling him how beneficial it would be if their team was able to get in the gym together over the summer, build chemistry and get stronger.
See, the high school has been under construction since Feb. 3, which means athletes have no access to the weight room.
So Nef, who is slated to become Toledo’s starting quarterback this year, began thinking of ways to transport his teammates to Thorbeckes Wellness Center in Centralia, as first reported by Scorebook Live Washington. Only problem is, it’s a 30-minute drive from Toledo and a five-passenger car wasn’t enough to carry everyone.
At first, he thought a bus would be perfect.
“But I realized a bus was probably not the best option because I would need to have a CDL,” Nef said.
So then he thought of the next logical choice: a van. McNaught agreed.
Nef began scouring the web for a van, first looking on OfferUp, but couldn’t find any that caught his interest. He asked his conditioning coach, Don Schaplow, who is also Toledo’s track and field coach, for some help finding one.
“Of course a conditioning coach would be all about us getting to the gym,” Nef said.
Schaplow kept an eye out before calling Nef one day and letting him know about a van for sale for $500 at an upcoming clearance sale at the high school. The teaching staff had planned on buying it as a gift for a retiring fellow teacher, but they decided it needed too much work. It wasn’t running, it was dirty and it needed a new alternator.
So on the final day of the sale, Nef arrived with a crisp Benjamin Franklin and offered the two women in charge of the sale $100 for the van. His pitch included telling them he would be using the van to help Toledo athletes stay in shape.
“They looked at each other and they’re like, ‘Well, I’m not telling him no, he’s too cute,’” Nef said.
Nef just got the van licensed on Monday and the first thing he plans to do is bring them a box of donuts to show his gratitude.
It did take a little bit of work to get it road ready. Nef doesn’t know anything about working on cars but McNaught does, so he installed a new alternator and when they turned the key for the first time, it started right up.
“I was so excited,” Nef said. You should have seen my face. I was so happy.”
He plans to begin hauling friends and teammates to Thorbeckes in Centralia starting next week, after he returns from vacation. Thinking ahead of that gave him another idea. He doesn’t want to charge his teammates gas money for the hour-long roundtrip drive. That seems unfair, he said. So the kids plan to start a fundraiser, most likely a car wash, with a goal of raising $1,000 to pay for their gas the rest of the summer.
“I’m ready,” Nef said. “I’m ready to take my friends to the gym with me. We’re gonna go all the way is the goal.”