Cochrane teen gets second chance at 2012 Alberta Summer Games
The second time may be the charm for Cochrane football player Aidan Smith.
After being forced to drop out of the wrestling competition at the 2010 Alberta Winter Games in Cold Lake and Bonnyville due to a burst appendix, the 15 year old finally got the chance to compete on the provincial stage.
Smith competed at the 2012 Alberta Summer Games, which were held in Lethbridge July 25 to 29, with the Big Country football team.
“I always look for opportunities to play football,” he said. “I love the sport and the Games in general are something I’ve been trying to get to. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the experience. Doing the sport I love (at the same time) is a bonus for me.”
Smith is no stranger to playing the sport he loves at a higher level. Last year, he played with the Calgary Bantam Football Association’s (CBFA) Calgary Selects and played for the Pilgrim Bowl in St. Louis, Mo. The Selects played teams from across the state and won the tournament with a 3-0 record.
Smith said playing in the United States helped prepare him to play at the Summer Games.
“The competition was pretty tough down there,” he said. “It definitely got me ready for tournaments in Canada and competitions like this.”
The Big Country team, comprised of athletes from Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, Olds and Okotoks, was only together for two weeks prior to the tournament. It took some work, but the players and coaches were able to form a quick bond with each other. According to Roy Lewis, one of the team’s coaches, the team chemistry off the field translated into a set of successful practises.
The team employed a number of team-building exercises, such as player interviews, skits and a team barbecue in order to build the team’s chemistry in the short weeks the group has been together.
As one of the team leaders, Smith and his fellow captains were employed to help the coaches build the team unity and create healthy communication among the players, which he said was a challenge.
“It was hard, but everyone’s outgoing and we’re trying to concentrate on bringing the quieter players out a bit more. You always try to encourage your teammates to come together and communicate. The only way you can be aggressive on the field and get your offence and defence together is to communicate.”
Mac Chaisson, 15, of Cochrane said the team is ready for the challenge of playing against some of the top squads in the province.
“We have a great bunch of guys,” he said. “It’s a chance to play against some really good players and to challenge yourself. It should be a lot of fun.”
The football team went 1-3 in the 2010 tournament and while the 2012 team is aiming for a medal this year, its second goal is to win the sportsmanship trophy.
“It’s really big for our head coach,” said Smith. “We can’t be unsportsmanlike. We have to be polite to the refs. All the captains have to stress that to the players.”
“We are definitely the underdog team going into the tournament based on our population,” said Lewis. “With the team we’ve put together, it’s a group of committed athletes and we believe we can take a run at any medal out there.”