Thunder turning a corner

Spectrum football program making progress as it enters fourth season

Spectrum Thunder players gather around head coach Darren Vaux during practice at Spectrum Community School.

Spectrum Thunder players gather around head coach Darren Vaux during practice at Spectrum Community School.

It’s a new season for the Spectrum Thunder and there’s a new air around the team clubhouse.

OK, there’s no clubhouse. But the team does take over a classroom to watch game highlights the day before a game day. And not only is there a new air in the classroom, on the side of the field, and on the field, there’s reason to believe the program is going in the right direction, according to head coach Darren Vaux.

“At times it’s been tough sledding here, being such a young team, but now we have more coaches, and more awareness in the community that we have a football program here,” said the second-year coach.

The senior team starts the B.C. High School Football season in Vancouver against Eric Hamber on Friday (Oct. 14). Surrey’s Earl Marriott will visit the Thunder at Spectrum on Oct. 28.

So far it’s been a good start to the Spectrum football program’s fourth season.

The senior Thunder beat the Timberline Wolf Pack 22-0 in exhibition play.

Oliver Adam, Riley Wilson and Bryden Holt all scored touchdowns and the defence added a safety to round out the scoring. Junior quarterback Chris Starck played for the senior side in the game and showed his promising stock as he went 8-for-12 in pass completions for a total of 210 yards.

This year the Spectrum Thunder will graduate its first core of original players that have played every year on the team. Oliver Adam, now in Grade 12, was part of the original team that started when he was in Grade 9.

He has seen the program come a long way.

“It’s changed a lot, we have coaches now with [Westshore Rebels] experience, and even Spectrum teachers have noticed the program,” Adam said.

The fact the team is still unknown within the school is a point of culture that Vaux said can take years to develop.

“Even when we go out to recruit, community football players who are in our catchment haven’t heard of us, so we’ve set about to change that,” Vaux said.

It can take a while. Winning helps. Of course, that too can take a while.

Last year the Spectrum Thunder fielded a junior team for the first time, and the senior team won its first-ever football game. When the senior team scored 38 points in another game, people around the school took notice, Adam said.

“It took getting those points, and getting in the newspaper,” he said.

Adam was initially recruited as a Grade 9 to play football by the principal, who heard he’d played rugby before.

“I had never played,” said Adam. “Now, the team is getting better because more of the guys are coming up to the senior team with experience.”

Adam has also had recruiting interest from an American university, something that is also new for Spectrum Thunder. It’s still a ways away, he said, but it’s a good sign.

Spectrum isn’t without a football history.

NFL kicker Eddie Murray, who was honoured at the school last year, was among many great athletes who came through the school. Unfortunately, Greater Victoria schools didn’t have football teams then.

“If we had a team, we would have won everything,” said Randy Mar. As a teen, Mar attended Spectrum. He’s a well-known youth community football coach who is among the latest to join the Spectrum coaching staff. His son, Rob Mar, is also a Spectrum grad and is now coaching with them.

“We are turning a corner, and getting experienced youth coaches in here is part of that,” Vaux said. “We’re still not a household name among football players around here, so it’s just a matter of letting people know we have a program.”