I have been very fortunate to become involved with the Muskie football team.
I had coached other sports previous to this, with fairly good success. One of the most memorable persons I coached in Fort Frances became the top high school rower in North America—and a few years later became rower-of-the-year for Canada.
There were many factors that made this season a very challenging one for the football team. I was very surprised to see how many students kept coming out to practice day after day. I also was surprised to see how many students joined the team after we were forced to forfeit our third game.
I knew absolutely nothing about football before the start of the season, so my contribution basically was limited to encouragement when I saw various players doing well during practice since I, myself, was starting to learn the complexities of the sport at the same time as them.
I did notice a lot of things, however. I could see how the team was maturing. The guys were bonding more and more and, to my astonishment, their bonding grew even stronger after each agonizing defeat on the field.
Coach Andrew George had a meeting and also talked individually with players on the Monday after our last game of the season. I handed out several shirts, plaques, and other things during that meeting.
I did not give things to the most gifted players, but rather to those I felt tried the hardest.
One of the Grade 9 players had been struggling when it came to learning various plays, and with how to play his position. He was frustrated, and disappointed with himself, but kept coming out. But I felt he deserved a shirt because of the effort he was making and for her perseverance. Plus, when coaches would ask the guys to ran a lap around the track, he and Britt Green were the front-runners every time.
I explained to him why I was giving him the shirt and, as I handed it to him, the whole team started chanting his name. It was quite a moment, to say the least, and I am very, very proud of the guys for cheering him on. And I am happy that he earned the respect of his teammates.
The time we spent in Room 129 that day will be as memorable as the day I walked out to the podium in front of packed grandstands and put a god medal around D’Arcy Tresham’s neck after he had won his final high school race at the most prestigious high school/college rowing regatta in North America.
That moment in Room 129 is a most treasured time, and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Our Muskie football team is a team that we can be very proud about. We may not have a winning team when it comes to the scoreboard, but we do have a winning team.
Coach George, along with the other coaches, have had a lot of patience. And while they can be very firm when they need to be, they also are very encouraging and caring.
It’s been a very good experience getting to know—and learn from—the other coaches.
I am also very impressed with our team quarterback, Dan Brunetta, and the leadership he provided. He took on his role very seriously, and his interaction with his teammates both on and off the field is something to be extremely proud of.
All of the other seniors provided leadership and support for the younger guys.
I have been on many teams, and coached many teams, but I have never seen such a cohesive team as the Muskie football team.
I also would like to mention that the guys are starting off-season conditioning. Anyone wanting to be a part of the Muskie football team can contact me, any of the other coaches, or Mr. Bliss at the high school, and I will help you with your conditioning.
Fort Frances, Ont.