VANCOUVER — It was a picture that made me feel good from the second I saw it.
Perhaps, in the run up to this coming Saturday’s 4 p.m. Subway Bowl B.C. Double-A Coastal championship final between North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Eagles and Robert Bateman of Abbotsford, you saw it, too.
In the photo, taken by Bateman team photographer Rick MacDonald (full version included below) and later posted on Facebook by a team parent, Timberwolves’ left tackle Logan Thiessen, his arms fully extended, is picking up quarterback Nolan Watrin as the Grade 11 pair celebrate a touchdown which came during the team’s 41-19 semifinal win over Nanaimo’s John Barsby Bulldogs at B.C. Place Stadium.
While a photographer’s choice would have been to have both players’ faces clearly in view, in this case, the fact that they were both completely obscured put the emphasis on the act of the celebration itself.
And in the week-long run-up to a championship game, nothing says ‘team’ more.
So when I picked up the phone Thursday morning to call Bateman head coach David Mills to get his reaction to the picture, I discovered very quickly he was of a similar mind.
“That photo is football,” said Mills. “That’s 11 guys working towards a goal, and the one guy might get the touchdown, but the other 10 is what made the it happen. To me, that photo is pretty special.”
And it stands for the general theme of the week for all of the programs fortunate enough to play B.C. high school football on its only December date.
In Abbotsford, students were back to on-line classes in the wake of heavy rains to start this week, yet while the Bateman football players were separated by day, it made their time together after school at practice all the more special.
“You put in a lot of time and lot of effort,” continued Mills, who this week is holding the team’s final week of practices on the turf at Abbotsford Secondary. “The purpose of high school football is not to win championships, but it is a yearly goal. And while it’s not a provincial final, to be able to now get to our second championship game in the last three seasons is pretty exciting for our program.
“And then the kids we have in the program over the last couple of years, their commitment and their work ethic… all of that, it’s kind of why we’re here.”
Throughout the challenges that flooding has brought to their region, Bateman player and coaches, like the rest of their community, have been available to lend a hand to those in need.
And now, with one of the city’s own headed off to try and claim a championship on the last day of the high school football season, sport gets its chance to provide whatever healing and relief it can, for however long it can.
“I don’t know exactly why, but I think when these kinds of things happen, it puts things in perspective, especially with what we’ve gone through the last year and now this year,” he said of both the health and now environmental issues which have had to be overcome.
“It really makes you appreciate your days on the field together, and the games and the practices where you can get out there and … not forget about what is going on, but get the chance to focus on other things for a couple of hours.”
In other words, working together and celebrating as a team.
And if you’re not sure what that looks like, scroll back up and look at a picture that, especially this week, is worth so much more than a thousand words.
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