When a broken foot ended his 2014 season with the Simon Fraser Clan, Kyle Kawamoto made the trip to Kelowna last October to take in the B.C. Football Conference final.
And while the 21-year-old receiver didn’t experience the acute pain from the sidelines, he still had a good grasp of how every Okanagan Sun player felt following a 23-19 loss to the Langley Rams.
Now, as an official member of the Sun, Kawamoto would like to help his new team take care of some unfinished business.
“I watched these guys lose that game and I know how bad they all want it now,” said Kawamoto, as the Sun opened training camp on the weekend in Kelowna. “I haven’t been around but I know these guys have been working towards getting back there again and getting it done this time.
“I’m excited to join this team and try help them get what they want.”
Kawamoto is one of the more 30 recruits head coach Shane Beatty and his staff brought in during the off-season, many of whom the Sun expect to make an immediate impact as starters in 2015.
Kawamoto started all four seasons at SFU and this spring was on the CFL’s radar, earning an invitation to the regional combine in Edmonton.
When the North Vancouver native was passed over last month in the CFL draft, he saw a summer in the Okanagan as the best alternative.
“My name didn’t get called like I hoped, so now I’m making the best of it,” said Kawamoto, who caught 19 passes in six games for the Clan last season before the injury. “I came (to the Sun) because of the culture, everyone I’ve met is great and it’s a good football environment. It’s a really good program and a good opportunity for me.”
Another of the Sun’s highly-touted recruits is Kent Lawrence, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound defensive lineman who played last season at Reedley College in California—the same school where Beatty began his coaching career in 1995.
Lawrence, who was born in Dawson Creek before moving to California when he was 10, is excited to be back in Canada.
“I haven’t been (Canada) for nine years and I didn’t know much about Kelowna, but it’s exciting for me,” said Lawrence, 19. “Shane has some coaching buddies down there, they gave him the heads up and thought it would be a good idea. I wanted a new setting, a new environment, a whole new experience. It was time for me to move and spread my wings.
“This football team is motivated and I believe they have the drive to go all the way.”
With the likes of Kawamoto, Lawrence, a handful of other blue chip recruits—led by 48 seasoned returnees—on the roster, Beatty can’t help but be upbeat about the club’s potential this season.
“It will take a few more days to evaluate, but we’re awfully athletic, we’re tall and we’re angular,” said Beatty, beginning his third season at the team’s helm. “We’ve got some smart football players, athletics and fast. The guys are committed and ready to work hard, so we’re happy with how it look right now.”
The Sun will hold scrimmages on the next two Saturdays, July 11 and 18.
The Sun will then kick off the BCFC regular season Saturday, July 25 at home to the Westshore Rebels.