Against the odds, the Lacombe Bantam Raiders football team is having a spring camp — while also following the COVID-19 protocols laid out by AHS.
Originally scheduled for May 18-June 6, the yearly camp was postponed by over a month by the bantam league to avoid the first wave of the virus. With numbers now currently lower, teams are able to have a 14-day camp give the players and coaches form a bubble-like cohort with each other. Each athletes, according to AHS guidelines, must choose one sport to cohort with.
Head Coach Fred Knip says he lost over half his team since last year, but has still seen a solid turnout — with many kids choosing to play football over baseball and soccer.
“We are getting our rookies and first years out and we are seeing what the older guys are looking like. We are seeing if they ran throughout the winter,” he said.
Players on the field do not have to practice social distancing while playing — however coaches and trainers are asked to wear gloves, stay six feet apart and wear a mask.
“We are trying to reconcile what AHS needs and whether we can work in those parameters. We have three individuals who are our COVID-19 representatives. They are making sure everyone is signed in and out so we can track if there is an issue. Each player is signing wavers saying they have not been sick or out of the country,” Knip said.
The Raiders are able to play exhibition games if they choose — so long as the playing field only has a total of 50 individuals total on it between both teams. Given that, the Raiders will play the Ponoka Broncos Wednesday, July 15 at 5 p.m.
Knip said that game will be the first chance to see a group of athletes who have been playing together since Atom.
“These kids are great kids and they have been cooped up since March 15. They need to get out. We are still recruiting,” he said.
While winning is one of the Raiders goals, Knip said the main thing is developing young men into contributing community members.
“In 20 years, these kids will be part of the Rotary or the Kinsmen. If you go to those groups events today, many of those people have played football for us in the last 25-30 years,” he said. “Will any of these kids make it to CIS or NCAA? Maybe. We have had Tanner Green come through this program and Johnny Ericson and Richard Jans are both at the UofA.”