Not even the school strike could put a stop to both the junior and senior Ballenas Whalers football teams taking part in some action this past week against the Belmont Bulldogs in Victoria.
The Whalers, from the B.C. AA High School Football league, went up against the AAA Bulldogs and showed that they could compete with the big schools (based on student enrolment), but both Whalers teams lost, with the seniors going down 34-14 and the juniors 15-6.
While the strike continues, the high school football season is well underway, though it has come with challenges.
The Whalers are without their head coach Jeremy Conn, who as a teacher is not available to coach during the strike.
Assistants Dan Smith and Trevor Shields have taken on the coaching, with Smith on the offensive side and Shields on the defensive side. It’s something that the team has been getting used to over the first few weeks of the season, practices included, and it’s a matter of time before it all starts to come together.
“It’s been a change, but the kids are adjusting well,” said Shields. “We have some kids who haven’t even come out because of the strike, thinking that the football season isn’t happening thanks to that. But we’ve been out here and hopefully the word can get out to the rest of those kids who were thinking of coming out to play. We’re here and we’re going.”
Holding practices three times a week, the junior and senior Whalers have been on the field together, working on their games together as a unit, giving them all a chance to not only get in some good practice time but to help each other learn.
“Real nice to see, for sure,” Shields said. “Both teams have been working very hard in practice and we’re all happy that the season has started, as much as you can call it a season at least. Playing some meaningful games, whether or not we know if they even mean anything, has been refreshing for everyone.”
With no telling how long the strike is going to last, the season will continue as it has for the first two weeks. While the students wait to get back in to the classroom, the students who’ve enjoyed the game of football continue to do so.
“Hopefully, for their sake, something gets resolved soon,” Shields said. “Our seniors, some of them, it’s their last kick at the can. They want to impress scouts and stuff like that and it’s really hard to show with the strike going on.”