Being relieved of his head coaching duties with the Okanagan Sun was admittedly one of the more trying experiences Peter McCall has ever faced.
Still, the 40-year-old high school teacher didn’t have to look far for support in the days, weeks and months following his dismissal.
The immediate reaction from staff and students at Rutland Senior Secondary was confirmation for McCall that his work with young people is valued and appreciated, both in the classroom and on the football field—even if the local junior team no longer required his services.
“When they heard this happened, the (RSS) student body and staff got together and bought me a $1,500 mountain bike and presented it to me by surprise in class one day,” said McCall. “I knew they appreciated me, but that was way over the top, I was literally moved to tears. When it all happened, they lined the hallways and clapped for me.
“I was just so humbled by it all,” he continued. “It really hit home how much they care and appreciate what I’m doing. I can’t say how much I appreciate the support they’ve shown me, too.”
It’s been four months since the Sun’s board of directors chose to relieve McCall of his coaching responsibilities, citing his shortcomings in the area of recruiting.
The initial shock of the dismissal now in the past, McCall continues to do his best to put it all in perspective.
“I don’t ever want to sound bitter, but I still question the decision,” said McCall. “It was a management-level decision, and I think they’re a little confused about what they’re trying to accomplish.
“I thought that we were going in a good direction so I’m still upset about that,” said McCall who went 16-7 in two seasons as a BCFC head coach, “but I know so many of those kids on that team and would never tell them not to play for the Sun. I’m hoping they’ll do well in their football careers.
“God’s honest truth, there’s been a lot of soul searching and it’s been a tough pill to swallow. But it’s time to leave it behind.”
And while McCall admits he is still carrying a certain degree of emotional baggage from the events of mid-February he insists he has, for the most part, moved on.
Returning to his coaching roots, McCall is back on the gridiron at Rutland Secondary.
He served as the Voodoos head coach from 2001 through 2008, but this time around will assume a lesser role, working as an assistant to head coach Shane Sommerfeld.
In the end, the lure of coaching was simply too much for McCall to suppress.
“When football started up in the spring, the kids were asking if I was going to be helping out and be involved,” said McCall who will work with the Voodoos as an offensive assistant. “The practises are happening right outside my window, and I mean I just couldn’t stay away. This is my passion and my love is working with these Rutland kids. I just wouldn’t feel right if wasn’t helping out.”
And it’s safe to say no one is more excited to have McCall back with the Voodoos than Shane Sommerfeld.
“It’s great having Pete back, he offers a dynamic you just can’t get from anybody,” said Sommerfeld, who coached with the Sun for eight seasons.
“He takes a lot off my plate, and with (assistant) Jason Farnsworth, I think it gives us a better coaching staff than most junior teams have.”
In addition to combining their coaching talents and sharing ideas on the football field, Sommerfeld has also served as a sounding board for McCall since the firing.
“I really felt for Peter, I think it was pretty bad the way the whole thing went down,” Sommerfeld said. “Having said that, I was never more happy to see someone get fired,” he joked. “Now he’s with me in our program, and our football program’s going to be better.”
If there are other upsides to his dismissal from the Sun, McCall said his summer should be mostly stress-free for the first time in years.
He also has more time to spend with his family—wife Tara and their two young daughters, aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2.
“The stress is gone, there was a lot of anxiety working two jobs and having some people whose ideas you didn’t agree with and it would wear on you after a while,” McCall said. “In some ways it’s a huge relief. There’s more free time in my life, it’s filled up quick with my family and training and school work here. It’s a nice balance and at the end of the day I’m not stressed out. I can enjoy quality time with my kids.”