Kudos to some deserving coaches

There’s really only one place to start this week’s column.
I was as surprised as anyone when I got the word last week about Fort Frances Lakers’ assistant coach, assistant general manager, and director of scouting Grant Perreault having been diagnosed with colon cancer.
It’s the rare person in this world that you don’t hear anything negative about. But Perreault definitely falls into that category, at least as my experience goes.
From guiding First Nations’ youth to a brighter future through his job as the Akwe:go program co-ordinator at the United Friendship Centre here to guiding young on-ice talent through the pitfalls of junior hockey, Perreault is a man dedicated to the betterment of the next generation.
Most people just pay lip service when it comes to being appreciative of others. But there was no question, during my interview with Perreault earlier this week, that he meant every word of what he said about how thankful he is for the support he’s received since his health condition came to light.
Having lost my father to cancer in April, 2012, I understand the toll Perreault’s loved ones are going through.
The good news is there’s literally a never-say-die attitude inside Perreault and he isn’t going to settle with just being another cancer statistic.
If anyone was built to beat this daunting foe, it’s Perreault.
Good luck in your battle, Grant. We’re all cheering for you!
• • •
Another salute goes out to departing Muskie head football coach Chad Canfield after four years at the helm.
Forget the 10-18 regular-season record and the 1-4 mark in the playoffs, although that’s nothing to sniff at considering the Muskies annually face a majority of opponents with far bigger population areas to build their football teams from.
Canfield was a class act in his dealing with me without fail which, if you’ve ever lost a playoff game by 35 points, can be an especially difficult thing to do.
He worked countless hours preparing his team for the gridiron, analyzing game film, and dealing with the numerous other obligations faced by a head football coach.
Canfield wasn’t afraid to show his team he would go to battle for them if he felt they had been wronged, as epitomized by one memorable charge onto the field this season to challenge an opponent’s touchdown, which initially was called off by game officials and then allowed to stand.
He will be difficult to replace, and I sincerely hope he meant what he said about a possible return to the sideline to resume his duties in the years ahead.
Good job, coach. Take a lap and then take a break. You’ve earned it.
• • •
Congratulations to the St. Francis Sentinels’ Grade 7 and 8 volleyball teams, who started their season at the Gord Savoy Classic in Atikokan this past weekend.
The Grade 8 boys’ team captured gold at the event while the Grade 7 boys came through for a silver medal.
The Grade 7 and 8 girls’ teams played their hearts out, as well, each finishing the day in fourth place.
The Rogoza Memorial girls’ volleyball tournament for Grade 8s goes this Saturday at J.W. Walker School, with matches starting in the morning and running through mid-afternoon.