Although a scholarship has taken some of the sting out of not playing football, it doesn’t fill the void nearly enough for Riley Scheffer.
“It’s the only thing that’s stopped me from going crazy,” said the Belmont Bulldogs player regarding the recent news he’s earned a scholarship to the University of British Columbia. “We’re doing some practice (with the Bulldogs) now, but it’s weird with the COVID protocols. I really miss playing the game 100 per cent.”
While the pandemic has cast a shadow over the prospect of games with the UBC Thunderbirds next year, the 17-year-old Belmont Secondary student can take some solace in the fact the scholarship is guaranteed, whether next season proceeds or not. Scheffer will focus on his kinesiology courses once the school year begins in September, with an eye toward becoming a physiotherapist.
“UBC is the perfect fit for me,” explained the Langford resident. “It offers a great kinesiology program, top-notch coaching, and it allows me to stay close to home for my family.”
Scheffer would gladly put a career in physiotherapy on hold, however, if the opportunity to play professional football presents itself.
“I’ll have a better understanding of whether I have what it takes to play pro once I’ve competed at the college level,” he said.
His coach, Alexis Sanschagrin, was quick to list some of the qualities Scheffer brings to the game.
“At six-foot-four and 275 pounds, Riley has the ideal body type for a lineman,” said Sanschagrin, who has been with the Bulldogs since 2011, serving as head coach since 2014. “Riley offers a lot more than sheer size. UBC is getting an athletic, quality young man. I look forward to seeing Riley continue his football journey and I am confident he will be successful at the next level.”
Scheffer was an integral part of the 2018 junior varsity team that went to the provincial championship in 2018, where his play at both defensive end and offensive tackle earned him the Outstanding Lineman Award.
Many of the players from that team are part of the varsity squad now, Sanschagrin noted. “It’s a fantastic group. Another player from that team has generated some concrete offers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we have more kids offered scholarships.”
Sanschagrin believes there is still a small window of opportunity that the Bulldogs will be able to get some games in this season although the chances are slim, and competition would be limited to playing two Vancouver Island teams. “This would have been the last week of the regular season,” he lamented. “We would be getting ready for the playoffs now under normal circumstances.”
Scheffer said the frustration of not being able to play is difficult for players from the 2018 team, especially after coming within one win of a junior varsity championship. “It really motivated the members of that team to win at the varsity level.”
In the meantime, he’s excited about the scholarship and the opportunity to play for UBC. “I’m grateful to my parents…I wouldn’t be able to participate without them. I’ve learned something from every coach I played for, and I’m grateful for that as well.”
In the meantime, at least Scheffer has a little more time to pursue his other passions, including learning languages.
“Spanish is pretty close to done and I’m working on Mandarin now.”
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