With somewhere between 100 and 120 bodies expected at Okanagan Sun spring camp this weekend, head coach Gavin Lake and his staff will have their powers of observation put to the test.
The newly-appointed field boss is excited to get his feet wet with the B.C. Football Conference club, and to find out what the talent pool on the 2012 edition of the Sun has to offer.
“The number one thing is I need to evaluate the bodies in front of me, it’s a brand new start for me and I need to see the players for myself,” said Lake, who formerly coached in Austria, the CFL, CIS and BCFC with the Vancouver Island Raiders. “Coaches can say this about one player, or that about another, but until I see them on the field, I won’t know for sure. It’s my first chance to get a semblance of what we have to work with.”
Sun spring camp kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. at the Parkinson/Apple Bowl practise fields, with Saturday’s sessions set for 10:30 a.m and 2:30 p.m.
Sunday’s 10 a.m. workout will be followed by a scrimmage, with camp ending around 1 p.m. All sessions are open to the public.
From Lake’s perspective, each and every player—veteran starter or green rookie—begins with a clean slate, and all jobs this season with the Sun must be earned.
“There aren’t any certainties here, as far as I’m concerned,” said Lake, who was hired this spring to replace the departed Jason Casey. “There’s no resting on laurels for anyone. This is a time for evaluation of all the players.”
Among the newcomers to watch, according to player personnel director Howie Zaron, will be defensive back Spencer Reid from Regina, Winnipeg linebacker Cody MacAnis and Justin Studor, an offensive lineman from Medicine Hat.
Included in the crop of key veteran returnees will be defensive linemen Steven Doege and Sam Loosyen, quarterback Jeremy Joseph, offensive lineman Evan McCann, defensive backs Brennan Van Nistelrooy, Matt Walker and Robbie Yochim, linebackers Brandon Donkers, and receivers Danny Turek, Ben White and Bobby Davis.
Former Sun players and current CFL’ers James Green and Nate Coehoorn, along with the Lions’ J.R. Larose will serve as guest coaches this weekend.
The club’s main camp begins in mid-July.
Sun players at Lions camp
Seven current and one former member of the Sun auditioned their talents for the CFL’s B.C. Lions last weekend at a free agent camp.
Canadian Junior Football League defensive player of the year Steven Doege was joined by defensive back Matt Walker, defensive lineman Sam Looysen, slotback Bobby Davis, kicker Steven Shott, receiver Danny Turek, defensive back Brennan Van Nistelrooy, and ex-Sun DB Jesse Warawa for two days of testing and evaluation.
The goal for all eight is to earn invitations to the Lions’ rookie camp in early June in Kamloops.
Player personnel director Howie Zaron expects to see at least a couple of players get the call, particularly Steven Doege.
“It’s not just the physical aspect of (Doege’s) game that makes him the player he is, but it’s also his work ethic, it’s second to none,” said Zaron. “He has pro potential and he wants it bad enough, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him there.”
Two Sun players tested well enough to win individuals awards at the junior/free agent camp: Walker recorded the best broad jump of nine feet 11 inches, while Looysen had the best bench press, with 30 reps of 225 pounds.