Belmont secondary graduate Matt Pastro is joined by Bulldogs football coach Kevin Harrington

Belmont secondary graduate Matt Pastro is joined by Bulldogs football coach Kevin Harrington

Belmont football scholarship returns to Pastro family

Younger son of Westshore Rebels president collects post-secondary tuition helper

Rein Eberle may have passed away more than 12 years ago, but his legacy has not been forgotten.

As an avid volunteer in the community, Eberle was passionate about youth sports, especially football. He served on the board for the Victoria Rebels (now known as the Westshore Rebels), an organization both his sons played for while they attended Belmont secondary.

“He believed in football players advancing to the next level and advancing their education,” said Elise Pastro, current Rebels president. “Both Rein and (his wife) Lorna were actively involved with the Rebels.”

After his death in 2003, the $1,000 Rein Eberle football scholarship was established for a graduating Belmont student. To be eligible, a student must not only be an active player or volunteer in football and demonstrate athletic promise and superior skill, they must be continuing on to post-secondary education.

Pastro said the Eberles was determined to keep a youth football league running, even with all of the complications and problems that came up. “They believed in keeping that team available for their boys,” she said of the couple.

When Eberle wasn’t tossing around the pigskin, he was an active participant in education, spending 20 years as the personnel manager for the Sooke School District. This is where his path crossed for the first time with Pastro, who was an educational assistant at the time.

Her younger son, Matt, was awarded this year’s Eberle scholarship, and was the second of Pastro’s boys to win the award, following brother Chris, who has played the past few seasons with the Rebels.

Matt, who turned down an offer to play for the University of Alberta next season, came back from a dehabilitating knee injury that required reconstructive surgery and cost him his grade 11 year of play to finish his grade 12 year playing for Belmont.

Instead of heading off to Alberta, he chose to stay closer to home this fall and signed-on to play for the Rebels while attending Camosun College.

“As a single mom this was a significant help for both my boys,” Pastro said.

Much like in Eberle’s time, she added, volunteering is still an integral part of their program. “It’s everything. Some would say that I expect them to volunteer too much.”

As for the players, she said, the team’s coaching staff and volunteer board members are teaching them how to be contributing members of society. “Volunteering is such a random act of kindness that is just unmeasurable.”

The players don’t just volunteer for football-related activities. They recently covered everything from selling 50-50 tickets to scorekeeping at a championship soccer game, giving parents a chance to sit down and watch their children, cheering them on to a win in the big game.

kengqvist@goldstreamgazette.com