Each and every May, hope springs eternal for the Okanagan Sun.
With a new head coach at the reins and close to 90 players auditioning their talents at the Sun’s annual spring camp, the B.C. Football Conference club caught a first glimpse of what’s to come in 2013.
First-year head man Shane Beatty was encouraged by what he saw over two days of workouts at the Parkinson fields as the club looks to turn the page on a disappointing 2012 campaign.
“Overall I was really pleased, I was excited to see the way the kids competed and ran around,” said Beatty. “They’re a very coachable group, and to put in the scheme that we just put in the last two days, the kids picked it up very well…very cerebral.”
Among areas of the team Beatty is most pleased with are the offensive line, defensive secondary and linebacker, all positions the head coach expects to be stronger with more depth than in 2012.
The status of one key position currently up in the air is at quarterback where three main contenders took reps at camp over the weekend—incumbent Cam Bedore, Theo Deezer from Winnipeg and Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren from the University of Saskatchewan.
Due to the competitive nature of recruiting in the junior ranks, there’s no guarantee all pivots will be coming back for main camp in July. But if they do, Beatty said there will be some interesting decisions to make.
“Not sure at this time (the quarterbacks) are one I’ll have to plead the 5th on,” joked Beatty, who plans to add another quarterback for camp in July. “We’ll take some time to evaluate that as a staff, sit down and talk and see which direction we want to go in because they’re all three different kids. I thought Cam (Bedore) did a very good job.”
Jay Christensen has witnessed his share of Sun camps over the last three decades, first as a player, next as a coach and, for the last two springs as the club’s GM.
As for the 2013 installment of spring camp, Christensen was impressed by both the energy and team unity displayed by the majority of the players—both positive signs going forward.
“The most notable factor is the enthusiasm, the guys were really flying around out there,” said Christensen said. “But you know, it was funny, if you saw a big hit on the field, a defensive guy hit an offensive guy, everybody cheered. And the same thing on offense, they didn’t just take it, which they have in some years in the past.
“I think there was really good chemistry with the guys considering the number of new faces that are out there.”
While the club’s new head coach is confident some important steps were taken at spring camp, Beatty said there is still plenty of legwork to be done before the Sun gathers for the start of main camp in seven weeks.
“We have a lot of work to do,” admitted Beatty. “We have to clinic each other on the fundamentals, the staff has to get together and we have a lot of things we need to work out. Having said that, I feel very good about where we’re at right now.”
Beatty expects the club to invite about 75 players back for main camp, which will kick off Friday, July 5.
The Sun organization is currently seeking host families in Kelowna and area to billet out-of-town players.
For more information, call billet coordinator Tamiko Lyle at 250-212-0058, or email firstname.lastname@example.org