On a sunny August afternoon, Ed Pierik and Lyle Jenish sort through gear issues with one player after another.
It’s the first official practice of the season for the Mount Douglas Rams senior and junior boys football teams. That means Pierik and Jenish, the team equipment managers, are busy tying torn practice jerseys together, adjusting helmets to properly fit heads, and doing whatever is needed to get the kids on the field.
“We don’t provide practice jerseys but there’s always a way,” says Pierik, as Jenish ties the torn side of a jersey around the armpit of a player who showed up without one.
Another player walks up with too tight of a helmet.
“It hurts at the front, and at the sides,” he says.
“I can release some air from the [helmet’s air bladder] at the back but it’s probably still going to be tight,” Pierik says. “Any time a player puts on a new helmet they have to get used to it.”
You don’t have to go far behind the scenes of the most successful high school football program in B.C. this decade. The senior team has won the provincial AAA title four times in the past five years. It won the AA senior championship two years before that and has two junior titles in that time span as well.
It’s no secret that the success of the Rams has flowed from the leadership of program head Mark Townsend and several dedicated coaches. But it’s the little things such as a mom making cash runs to the bank, or a dad taking the time to learn how to send team helmets away for recertification.
Safety is paramount in a sport where concussion and spinal injuries are a reality, after all.
“After five years the helmets can be sent away for an X-ray and come back,” Pierik explains.
Pierik and Jenish have been with the Rams for three years. They followed their sons to the Rams from the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association where they had already put in six years of volunteering, Pierik said.
“I don’t know how long I’ll stay but I enjoy it. The idea is you’re constantly integrating new parents into the program,” Pierik said.
On an average week Pierik or Jenish will spend about three or four hours at the field. Training camp is a bit busier but moving forward only one will need to be at the field for a game or practice.
“The time we put in is nothing like the coaches do, and we try to split up the work,” Jenish said. “There’s always something that needs fixing, and it’s the best seat in the house for the games.”
The two were at the 2015 Subway Bowl in B.C. Place when the junior Rams lost but the senior Rams won. And they will join the Rams as the team travels to Oregon for an exhibition game versus Veronia high school over Labour Day weekend.
The Rams host their first B.C. High School Football game with an exhibition match versus John Barsby Bulldogs, Sept. 9 at Mount Doug (tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m.). This year the Rams will be in the AAA Western Conference with the crosstown-rival Belmont Bulldogs. The Spectrum Thunder will play in the Tier II division.