It didn’t take long for offensive coach Mike Wolthuizen to realize the Okanagan Sun had landed a special talent in Nate Anderson.
As a rookie receiver last season, Anderson’s first ever reception in the B.C. Football Conference was a precursor of things to come.
“Nate didn’t even get credit for it in the stats, but his first catch went for 70 yards, it was a real eye opener right away,” said Wolthuizen. “Coming from the U.S., his fundamentals were so good, a lot better than most kids who come out of Canadian schools.
“He’s really skilled in all aspects of the game, his football savvy is very high and he has the ability to be dominant in every game he plays. We’re fortunate to have him.”
A dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, Anderson was born in Swift Current, Sask., then moved with his family to Utah when he was just five.
In the Salt Lake City area, he played the high school game at the highest level (5A) then, after graduation, looked north for the next phase in his football career.
After attending the University of Manitoba Bisons spring camp in 2016, Anderson received a call from Okanagan Sun recruiting coordinator Nathan Mollard.
“I felt like I was good enough to be on the (Bisons) but I really didn’t have the Canadian experience yet,” he said. “I didn’t want to take any time off from football so when the Sun called, I went for it and grabbed the opportunity. It was an easy decision for me and has turned out to be a really good move. The guys accepted me right from the start last year and it’s been a great experience so far.”
After a feeling out process and some decent production—15 catches for 162 yards—in his first season of junior football, Anderson has raised his game to another level in 2017.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Anderson leads the Sun in receiving with 35 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns.
His six-catch, two-touchdown performance last Saturday against the Kamloops Broncos earned Anderson BCFC offensive player of the week honours.
As much as the Sun could use Anderson’s talents for another year or two to come, both expect him to be university-ready by next season. Whether it’s in Canada or south of the border, one thing is certain—Anderson wants to play football as long as possible.
“Next I want to go to university, get started on my degree and just ride football as long I can,” he said. “I’d like to go to the U.S. but I think Canada is more realistic. But that’s good, I love living in Canada and in Kelowna. It’s been a dream of mine to come back to Canada, so it’s all working out.”
In the more immediate future, Anderson is simply focused on the Sun’s remaining games and his club’s quest for a first-place finish in the BCFC.
On Sunday, with a playoff-like atmosphere expected to prevail, the first-place Sun (7-0-1) is home to the Langley Rams (4-4-0).
“It’s really exciting, it’s almost like playoffs are starting this week against Langley,” Anderson said. “First place is a big deal, it’s a big advantage and something to play for. Langley is a tough team. It’s going to be a battle.”
Kick off between the Sun and Rams Sunday at the Apple Bowl is 1 p.m.