It’s a new season and a new attitude for the Westshore Rebels football club as they prepare for the 2015 B.C. Football Conference season.
The junior squad opens its annual spring camp Friday (May 1) at Westhills Stadium with a new head coach in J.C. Boice, whose presence – and renowned recruiting abilities – has helped create a buzz that has prompted more than 90 players to sign up for camp.
“I think, honestly, kids just sense a very authentic movement going on here,” said Boice, noting the camp roster is roughly three times larger than last year’s. “You can’t fool 19 and 20 year olds, you’ve got to be authentic. You’ve got to show them meaningful change is happening.”
Between a proactive board of directors who have worked tirelessly to promote the club and ensure players connect with the community, the sponsorships of local merchants, whose backing is helping upgrade things like uniforms and other equipment, and the quality facilities provided by the City of Langford, Boice said, the club continues to head in a positive direction.
“We’ve had a big spike in (the number of) Victoria area kids that are coming out, and we’re very happy about the spike in Cowichan kids signing up,” he said. Players from the North Island, including some from Nanaimo – home to the arch-rival Vancouver Island Raiders – are also here this weekend to test their mettle.
For the players, the weekend was billed as an NCAA-style training camp, which is not a stretch since Boice has worked closely with several NCAA programs as a quarterback coach and consultant.
Through his connections as director of operations with the National Football Academies, Boice has lined up a collection of guest instructors with college level or pro experience for this weekend. They include running backs coach Andrew “A.J.” Jackson, who suited up for the Houston Oilers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his career, offensive line coach Mike Don, wide receivers coach Artie Allen and quarterbacks coach Mansur Ivie.
“These are really high-energy, experienced coaches who are going to provide something these players have never been exposed to,” Boice said.
Taking on the role of offensive co-ordinator in addition to his head coach duties for the Rebels this season, Boice said he’s very confident in the people who will guide the defence this weekend and all summer. Defensive co-ordinator and one-time Rebels head coach Scott Mennie, and “quality control” specialist Doug Hocking – both are ex-CFL players – give the team two experienced coaches to help improve on a season that saw the Rebels give up 418 points in 10 games.
Spring camp sessions are open to the public. Friday’s helmets-only workout goes from 6 to 9 p.m., with full-gear sessions planned for Saturday (9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m. to noon), with the focus an 11 a.m. scrimmage on the final day.
The Rebels open their 2015 season on July 25 in Kelowna against the Okanagan Sun. Their home opener is Aug. 1 against the Raiders.
For more information, visit westshorerebels.ca.
Did you know?
• Sponsorships are the life blood of any amateur sports team, and the Westshore Rebels continue to reach out to businesses on the West Shore and beyond for help in operating the club this season. If you’d like to be a part of the 2015 program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.