Roan Reid couldn’t imagine his life without sports, and before he departs for the University of Calgary’s football program, the Vernon Secondary School (VSS) senior is giving younger students the chance to learn and play the sport he loves most.
Reid has spent the last three years playing for the VSS Panthers, a program that’s won two B.C. AA High School Senior Varsity championships in recent years.
The team lost out on a chance at a third championship after flooding last fall led to a restructuring of the provincial tournaments. This meant Reid’s high school football career came to a close in November — but he still has unfinished business in the local football scene.
This past week, Reid played out an idea that came to him about a year ago. He organized football training sessions with Grade 6 and 7 students at BX Elementary. Dubbed the Panthers Pipeline program, the bi-weekly sessions brought out roughly 40 young students after school.
During the pandemic, when Reid wasn’t able to play football, he was thinking about the kids at his former elementary school and how they “weren’t able to have any of the experiences that I was fortunate enough to have at their age, as well as the start of my high school career.
“I think by starting this, it will be able to build up the VSS program as well as give the kids an opportunity to play football and to fall in love with it like I did at a young age,” he said.
Reid was fortunate to have two older brothers heavily involved in sports to serve as role models for him growing up.
“What I found is some kids don’t have that, so what I wanted to do is kind of bridge the gap.”
Reid has recruited 11 other VSS Panthers players to help out with the program, teaching kids the basics of football, with no contact and a strong emphasis on having fun.
“I want to make it as fun as possible, I want the kids to fall in love with the sport,” Reid said.
So far it seems to be having the desired effect — and not just among the boys.
“I have about six girls signed up that come and they’re probably the most enthusiastic out of all of them which is great to see. They’re first in line and everything,” he said.
“You see their eyes light up when we demo a drill or something like that. It’s very fulfilling for us.”
Reid sees football as a dying sport, and sports in general are getting less uptake among school-aged kids. But he’s thankful for people like Sean Smith, VSS athletic director and football coach, and BX principal Lance Johnson, for what they do to promote sport in their respective schools.
It’s been a successful start to the program, and there will be two more sessions coming up next week.
“I’ve been telling my parents (that) I cannot believe how well this is going,” Reid said. “It’s one of those things that you plan so much for and you stress about it, you want it to be really good. And when it actually happens it’s better than you could have ever imagined.”