Two members of the Westshore Rebels were on the Apple Bowl football field in Kelowna on Sunday.
They would rather have been there to play in the B.C. Football Conference championship game – the Okanagan Sun hammered the Vancouver Island Raiders 54-0 to take the Cullen Cup title.
But Hunter Lake and Alex Wright had reason to feel special all the same. The pair were there to accept the BCFC’s Ron White Community Service Award at halftime.
Richmond native Lake, now a junior football graduate, and Sooke’s Wright, who just finished his first season with the Rebels at receiver, shared in the honour, which recognized their work in and around the West Shore.
While both young men work regular jobs outside of football, they each also managed to dedicate numerous hours helping coach minor football in the community and represent the team in various service activities and fundraisers.
The two appeared at such events as the Wounded Warrior Run and McHappy Day, gave blood regularly and sold 50/50 tickets Sundays at the Tally-Ho Sports Pub.
Lake considers his support of community sports and other groups as payback of sorts, for the support he received as a football-crazed player growing up.
“It’s unmeasurable, and it really changes lives when youth see that their passion can take them places and be part of something bigger than themselves,” he said.
Not only do Lake and Wright attend Greater Victoria Minor Football Association practices and games, they work with individual players who are struggling with self-esteem issues and teach them about the values of teamwork.
“Amateur sports is where we all had our start, and it’s great to see kids in the same place we were so many years ago, ready to play and have fun,” Wright said. “And it’s important for everyone to be included and feel like they’re a part of something special.”
The dedication to giving back shown by these two players mirrors the commitment made by the Rebels organization last year, to make a positive impact on their community and help with the development of community football on the Island.
The Ron White Award has been handed out since 2002 and was established to represent the blue collar, hard-working image of the BCFC. It represents the respect and the recognition gained by ethical conduct, involvement and recognition within the community.
Lake and Wright are the BCFC representatives for the Canadian Junior Football League’s Past Commissioners Community Service Award, to be announced at the Canadian Bowl championship game Nov. 7 in Saskatoon.
– with files from Ryan Watters, BCFC