Tackling a challenge: Nathan Raymond makes South Sask Selects

                My son decided that this year he would make a change in his sporting career. As he has followed in mine and my older son’s footsteps baseball has been the predominant sport and most watched event in our household. Due to lack of interest in minor baseball in our community it has been difficult to find a bantam age team in the area. Last year we had to travel down to Carnduff to suit up for baseball.                 During a basketball game in Redvers this past March against the Moosomin Marquis Junior team I was approached by Murray Easton, a parent of one of the boys asking us if there was any interest here in Redvers about coming up to Moosomin and playing in the Generals Football program. He asked me if I had a son playing on the court and when I pointed him out he thought Nathan might be a good addition to the team. Nathan was only 13-years-old at the end of March and he was 6’2” and over 250 lbs.

                Murray told us that he would be coming back down towards the end of March to make a presentation to any students who may be interested in playing. After the presentation Nathan came home with a new enthusiasm that I haven’t seen for a few years and quite excited about making a switch from baseball to football. We quickly sent in the registration forms before the end of March as indoor practices were scheduled for the middle of April. Those first few practices definitely tested his medal as it was a quiet ride home after two hours of conditioning drills. Most practices didn’t even make use of a football. But I must say that he never gave up and always finished his laps and drills. I have to give a lot of credit to the coaches that are a part of that program because they were always encouraging the boys while continuing to push them to their limits. When the timed 40 yard runs were taking place and some players were laying down a sub 5 second 40’s I could see Nate was a little dejected at his time; the Head Coach Mr. Jason Schenn took him aside and told him that it was unrealistic of him to try and achieve those times as he would most definitely be one of the linemen. The times were not a factor for those positions and as long as they were participating and finishing they were pleased with their effort.

article continues below

                Spring training started up and the team was put together and the excitement grew as we suited up for their first game. As a rookie to the sport Nathan had a big curve ahead of him and being eager to please and willing to learn he picked up on technique quickly. Along with his size he quickly made his presence felt on the O-line as their center. He quickly had the play book memorized and his junior football career began. As the spring season progressed and we neared the end of June, Nathan, had the opportunity to play with the senior team in their last game of the spring. He was moved over to defence for that game as a defensive end which was a new position for him but after the game his senior coaches said he fit right in and wasn’t out of place at all.

                In conversations with Dana and Dextor, they told Nate that if he worked hard at his conditioning in the six week summer break they would look at bringing him up to the senior squad as a back-up O lineman. The challenge was accepted and Nathan didn’t miss a beat as he ran the school track all summer and vastly improved his conditioning as well as working on his drills to improve his foot work. When the fall season rolled around and we were back in training camp for the Generals it was very evident that his hard work had paid off. We started out with their first game in the junior season with a blowout of the Esterhazy Warriors 46-6. The following week Nathan was asked to suit up for the senior team and we thought it was a spot duty assignment for him but we were given a choice that Nathan could move up to the senior ranks as a full time player. Nate had a hard decision to make as he had quickly bonded with his buddies in junior but after giving it some thought he was excited for the challenge.

                The first senior game of the fall schedule saw Nathan and the Moosomin defence totally dominate Souris in a 56-0 romp, Nate was hooked and he liked the move to the defensive side of the ball because you were able to initiate the contact. As the fall season unfolded the senior team was sitting atop the south division with a 6-2 record. The boys suffered a loss in the semi-finals against Neepawa losing 24-8.

                As the awards banquet took place we were already missing football and we had a few conversations about how long this winter would be and we already felt a void after the end of the season. Then we saw a post on the Generals website inviting players to tryout in Moose Jaw for the South Sask Selects travel team that would be competing in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb 12-14 in the third Annual Pigskin Classic. Nathan along with three of his Junior Generals teammates traveled to Moose jaw on Dec 6-7 to take part in the tryouts. Over 280 youth players from age 12 to 16 showed up for the camp and after the weekend was over the long wait took place to see if he had made the team.

                Monday evening was interrupted by a phone call from the Head Coach that Nate had made the team. On Dec. 13-14 we were back in Moose Jaw for the start of camp this past weekend and what a camp it turned out to be. Kahari Jones from the BC Lions was a guest coach along with Barron Miles, Matt Sheridan and four coaches from the University of North Carolina. Coaches and players were also present from the Regina Rams and the Regina Thunder. It was an incredible start to training for Texas and the anticipation builds as the countdown begins. We are so thankful for all the top level coaching Nate has experienced from the grass roots level, with all the great individuals who coach for the Moosomin Generals and we are very humbled to be a part of the South Sask Selects and given an opportunity to kick start Nate’s football career. It’s been a complete transformation these last nine months for Nathan and it will be an experience he won’t soon forget. The South Sask Selects are bringing down some very good football players to this year’s tournament and it’s going to be an exciting event to be part of.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer