Spring training is on hold for the Spruce Grove and District Minor Football
SGDMF is now awaiting the green light from the province to resume their season once recently re-implemented restrictions are lifted.
“There’s so many variables playing into it. We’re anticipating that there’s going to be (a season) and we’re monitoring AHS, Football Alberta and CDMFA (Capital District Minor Football Association) guidelines to constantly see what restrictions we have and what we’re able to do,” said Dan Benscoter, president of Spruce Grove and District Minor Football.
Prior to the current shutdown, the local football organization held one week of practice the first week of May, while following AHS guidelines. That included small groups of ten at Fuhr Field, the Spruce Grove Cougars home base and where they hold practices and games as part of the CDMFA.
Minor football usually kicks off in May and teams practice from May to June. Bantams will practice Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, along with the peewees. Atoms and novices practice Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“The coaches did a phenomenal job and were able to throw together some good practice plans and the kids were able to work on a lot of fundamentals and just get outside and off the couch,” Dan Benscoter said.
Immediately following the outdoor practices in May, the SGDMF season was put on hold due to the tighter health restrictions put in place, including restrictions on outdoor sports and recreation, limiting activity to household and close contacts only.
The spring session usually wraps up with a jamboree at the end of June, put together by Leduc Minor Football. The CDMFA breaks for the month of July.
“It’s a nice time of year to be able to get kids who are brand new to football. Get them worked into the speed of the game and caught up on their fundamentals. It allows a lot of time for the coaches to really work one on one with the kids in the spring,” said Benscoter. “Then we usually come back after the first long weekend of August. At that point in time we’re starting to gear up.”
Spruce Grove and District Minor Football Association includes players from ages six to 15, although many 15 year-old football players play on the community high school team.
“Spruce Grove Composite, St. Peter the Apostle and Stony Plain Memorial, those three schools combine to put together one football team,” said Benscoter. “It’s a community lead football (high school) team. Once you graduate out of our program then you can move into their program or whatever program you want to go into.”
Although teams were able to play in cohort groups last season, Covid-19 did have an impact. The league went from playing 12-man to 9-man football for the season. They played one team for two weeks (two games) and then had isolate for 14 days before facing off with another cohort team.
The lockdown has affected players through the ranks, from novice to bantam to the high school level. Last season, the league ran from July to November with no playoffs, no provincials and no championship or trophies in 2020.
“It affected us…CDMFA made an exception last year and allowed us to hit the field in July and then we were able to get out there and work with the kids,” explained Benscoter. “The kids enjoyed it but some of the kids took it hard because as kids, they want to get out on the field and they want to play for something.”
With the season now on hold for several more weeks, coaches continue to plan and prepare for the season, while trying to keep the players engaged.
“They’re still providing the kids playbooks, they’re still providing the kids workouts that they can do at home so they can stay active and they’re not just sitting around doing nothing,” said Benscoter. “When we do, if we do get this green light, we can all, as an organization hit the field running, and take off where we left. We’re all just champing at the bit to get back on the field.”