With teachers halting involvement in afterschool activities, both junior varsity and varsity football teams at Belmont secondary school needed some help.
“At the end of February our district pulled the voluntary services,” said Kevin Harrington, head coach of the Bulldogs and a teacher at Belmont.
Harrington, along with fellow Belmont teacher Jason Leslie and Arbutus middle school teacher, Alexis Sanschagrin, have had to stop coaching the teams outside of school hours.
Even in the off-season the Bulldogs practise three times a weeks, preparing for a championship year. Without the three coaches, parents were asked to step up and help supervise the players during training. While some parents, such as Andrea Rempel, had already been volunteering for the team, a handful of others have come onboard.
Rempel has been using flex days at work to help the team every second Friday.
Keeping the teens’ heads in the game and in shape for the field will definitely help them for next season, but Harrington said it’s not crucial, “It’s the off season, it’s not like the team would collapse. But when the kids can focus in the off-season, there will be less injuries and they’ll stay stronger.”
No one feels the repercussions of the teacher’s job action more than the students it’s affecting.
For outside linebacker and quarterback, Brady Lockwood, “it’s been really tough.”
He’s grateful they have had many parents and people in the community step up to help the team, though he admits, “It’s a little less organized.”
On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays the football players hit the gym at DPL CrossFit.
Dave Warbeck, DPL owner, volunteered his space and his time to train the players prior to the B.C. teachers union’s decision.
When the teachers could no longer help in the afternoons, Warbeck said it was even more important to step up and help the teams.
“I am here to help out our local athletes,” said Warbeck, a former elite mountain bike racer.
Each training session usually accomodates more than 30 kids. Warbeck has also opened his gym to the varsity and junior varsity teams on Sundays.
Two of the teams’ coaches who are not teachers have been able to stand by the players and continue to train them: John Richot, a Camosun College student, and J.C. Boice, a coaching consultant.
“I love these kids, I love the game of football and I am going to do what it takes to keep developing these guys,” Boice said. “I am very excited to be working with the parents here at Belmont. They are doing a great job.”
Boice runs the National Football Academies in the U.S. and brought 20 Belmont athletes to a Seattle camp in April. Five parents stepped up to drive the players.
“They wouldn’t allow us to take a school bus without a teacher,” Rempel said.
Although the coaching teachers have fallen on some hurdles for the past few months, Harrington guarantees Belmont will have two football teams next year. “We will definitely have teams in the fall,” Harrington said.