This past summer I once again had the opportunity to coach in Hawaii with the U17 Football Alberta all-star team. Since the early 90’s I have been richly blessed to coach on a handful of senior bowl teams, my last one being 2012, U18 Team Alberta 1999-2004 2 bronze, 2 gold, 1 silver, and the Hawaii trip teams on seven or eight occasions since 2007. Each team presented different opportunities to work with coaches and athletes from across the province, some in one game situations, others in a national championship tournament and Team Alberta Hawaii in a mix of practices, controlled scrimmages and cultural experiences.
Like just about all good things, ultimately there comes a time where you need to step away and let others enjoy the experience. To that end, I informed Tim Enger before our Hawaii trip that 2018 would be my last Football Alberta team and trip. If there has to be a last Football Alberta experience, a U17 trip to Hawaii is an outstanding way to close this chapter of my football life. I’d like to emphasize how grateful I am for the lessons I learned from all the coaches, players, and everyone who worked to support our teams over the years. Particular thanks go out to equipment support Al, trainer Nicole, team cook and grocery shopper extraordinaire Kirsten.
I’m grateful for all the coaches I’ve worked with over the years on Football Alberta programs. Strong personalities, differences of opinion and approach certainly existed from time to time. If everyone was the same and saw it the same way the opportunities for progress and learning would be greatly reduced. There were plenty of opportunities to learn, and for that I’m grateful.
I particularly want to say thank you to all the players over the years I’ve had a chance to work with be it a weekend at the Senior Bowl, 10 days on Team Alberta in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, or Ottawa or Team Alberta in Maui for 10 days. Some of them have gone on to the pros, some have gone on to be coaches, a few are officials at the CFL level, and I hope that all of them have taken something from their experience as they’ve gone on to be excellent young men, husbands and fathers.
This year I had another excellent group of DB’s from Brooks, Lloydminster, Sherwood Park, St Albert and Calgary. For the second year in a row, we went undefeated in three scrimmages with schools on the island of Maui. Each school is unique in its composition but united in their love for football.
They play the game fast and hard in Hawaii. Maui isn’t Honolulu with St. Louis High School (home of Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa), but over the years we’ve gone up against several Division I athletes. The scrimmages and those 8 am practices up at a small community field just part of the trip, a snorkel cruise, Marriott Luau, and time at the beach round out an excellent week.
All of this, from the first Senior bowl in 1990 to the present day have been the brainchild of Football Alberta’s Tim Enger. First as Technical Director and now as Executive Director, Tim has been the driving force behind moving football forward across the province. Tim proposed the Senior Bowl all-star team, then moved forward to challenge Manitoba and BC in individual games with the winning team from the Senior Bowl while working with Football Canada to develop the Canada Cup. Canada Cup lead to Team Alberta, Team Alberta lead to U18 and U16 teams, exhibition games with US teams and International Bowls and yearly Hawaii football opportunities.
If that wasn’t enough Tim championed the idea that football should be included in the Alberta Summer Games, successfully added to the games it remains the single highest attended event at the games. Provincial championships in Minor football have evolved under Tim’s watch. The Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) has enjoyed an extremely supportive and positive relationship with Football Alberta working to ensure that the high school provincial draw is played on the best fields with the best officials possible.
When the province of Alberta had precious few Field Turf fields and championships were routinely played on frozen tundra Tim and the ASAA Football Commissioner at the time, Bill McConkey, proposed the Alberta Bowl allowing all four levels of high school football to play their championships at stadiums with proper fields, bleachers, and scouting booths. At the time there was one venue in Edmonton, today fields in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Raymond, Fort McMurray, Lacombe, and Grande Prairie all meet the new standard. With a handful of other communities installing some form of field turf, it’s been a huge benefit to the game of football and Tim’s lead the support and growth of the sport from day one.
So thank you, Tim, thanks to Football Alberta, the coaches, players and support staff over the years, it’s been a great ride.
Team Alberta Highlights 2001