With a total rebuild arming the Rebels force this year, the West Shore football community is blessed with a range of players that not only bring the infamous B.C. skill, but diversity we have not seen in years past.
This season, we have two players that are the epitome of the drive the Rebels aim to represent, whose story makes this hometown team something to take pride in.
The Leader brothers, who hail from White Rock, live, eat and breathe football and bring a mentality to the team that is exactly what the unit needs in these first crucial games.
Older brother Nathan Leader, 22, is a chameleon on the gridiron, having developed the ability to play safety, receiver and kicker. In his opening game against the Kamloops Broncos, he totalled 112 offensive yards, averaging 18.7 yards on six catches and also made one solo tackle. His consistency was noticed by the Broncos and Rebels players and fans alike. This is one guy we know will bring the points this year.
Younger brother, Tyler, had just as big of an input in the season opener, with three solo tackles and multiple play-changing hits from his linebacker position. Just turned 20, he constantly drew attention in his junior football breakout game and has already proven that he will be one Rebel to watch this season.
Besides receiving well-deserved recognition for his debut performance, Tyler has turned the heads of athletes and spectators alike with his ability to not just overcome, but completely conquer something that would make most of us go about life with heed and general inhibition.
The younger Leader has a hearing impairment that requires him to wear a hearing aid for day-to-day living. While this is not uncommon, Tyler is required to remove his hearing aid for both practice and game days, making it impossible for him to give and receive game communication the way the majority of athletes do. This means Tyler must rely 100 per cent on sense for the snap, the plays and communication with his team and coaches.
He is living proof that football is not merely a game of juice, brawn and intensity, but a sport requiring heart, instinct and intuition.
After a tough opening loss, the brothers expect to crank up the intensity for tomorrow night’s (Aug. 2) home opener against the Vancouver Island Raiders.Their efforts will be key in to the Rebels evening up their record. The Raiders are coming off a loss against the Langley Rams and will be pushing for the same result.
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The Rebels-Raiders game takes place at Westhills Stadium at 7 p.m., with warm-ups starting at 6. Although these games have historically been ones to not miss, the Rebels organization plans to kick off the season with community celebrations unlike any before. With awesome prize draws, the opportunity to get entered for B.C. Lions end zone tickets and signed ball draw, a Mustard Seed food bank truck, appearances from the mini Rebels cheer girls and the ceremonial coin toss by Langford Mayor Stew Young, the game is guaranteed to entertain all in attendance.
The Rebels organization is focusing on more than just entertainment for the big home opener.
Victoria has a deep military history and is proud to be the home of many veterans, so the Westshore junior football team is dedicating its first night at home to them. Participating in the official ceremonies will be the colour party from the Langford Branch 91 of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Albert Head Air Cadet Band, and Langford Legion president Dave Bennett, who will take the honourary season kick-off.
Honouring our local veterans is of huge importance to both the team and the community that it calls home, so we invite you all out for a game that will not disappoint and an evening of fun. Ticket, schedule and game celebration information can be found at www.westshorerebels.ca.
See you all Saturday night!
Kate Duke is a volunteer with the Westshore Rebels junior football club.