Before ever hitting the field or an opponent

Before ever hitting the field or an opponent

Grizzlies face expectations on and off the field

The GW Graham Grizzly football players aren't just there to win football games. There is a standard of conduct to adhere to.

GW Graham’s high school football teams kick off their regular seasons this week, with the senior squad visiting Abbotsford secondary school Friday night.

The juniors opened Wednesday against Rick Hansen, in a game played after Progress press deadlines.

Both teams have high expectations coming into the year, particularly the juniors, who have been ranked No. 1 in the province throughout the preseason.

Grizzlies head coach Laurie Smith hopes for great things on the field, but he places just as much emphasis on what his players do off the field.

With more than 100 involved at the senior, junior and Grade 8 levels, Smith sees a huge opportunity to change lives for the better.

“When we started this, we wanted to do a program that was about graduating exceptional student athletes,” he said.

Academically, Grizzly players are expected to attend classes, study hard and meet expectations in their classes. Every two weeks, the players must collect grade-checks from all of their teachers and submit those to the coaching staff.

A study hall is set up, and players have access to tutoring and mentorship, with four teachers committed to helping out.

But academics is only part of it.

Smith and company have each player sign a contract before they can play for the team.

“The contract is about setting expectations, and saying, ‘We want you guys to make better choices,’” Smith explained. “There are lots of distractions for kids ages 14-18 and we understand that. We just want them to be aware that their choices have consequences.”

The first couple paragraphs cover those academic expectations.

The next few cover respect for teammates, teachers, coaches, parents and the community.

Then it gets into on-field behaviour — respect for rules, officials and opponents — how the Grizzlies want to conduct themselves between the sidelines.

The most interesting parts of the contract comes at the end, starting with social media.

“We actually had a social media guy come in here, set up a big screen and find garbage on all of our guys,” Smith chuckled. “Somebody smoking a joint or somebody with a beer. And he’s like, ‘This is what future recruiters and employees will see. Anyone can find this stuff, and once you put this stuff out there, it’s there.’”

“We want them to understand that going to the next level, coaches will look for character,” he added. “They’ll have a dozen kids who can do everything on the field that you can do, but they don’t want problems. They’ll look for kids who won’t give them problems.”

The drugs and alcohol clause is a major part of the contract, and it’s a major issue with teenagers. While Smith believes in redemption and wants to be forgiving, there’s zero tolerance for this violation.

“I understand that I am making a commitment to the GW Graham Football team,” the contract states. “As a member of that team I am not only making a commitment to the team, but also to the athletics department and the school. I will fulfill my commitment on and off the field to the best of my abilities. I also understand that any violation on my part, of any of the athletic rules, may result in loss of privileges, suspension from school teams, and/or school suspensions.

“I’ve had players come up to me and ask if there’s going to be mandatory drug testing and I say, ‘No. no. But it’s not a bad idea!,” Smith laughed. “But, if they’re going to sign a contract and not abide by it, we can’t have that on our team. It impacts the integrity of the contract and the integrity of the program.”

The bench boss is aware the contract may lead to headaches for the coaching staff.  What happens if they get to week five of the regular season and find themselves without a key starter or three?

How easy will it be to prioritize integrity with a playoff spot hanging in the balance? The coach hopes his players don’t put him in that position.

“I hope we don’t. I hope it works out really well and I’ve told them a thousand times it’s in their best interests,” he said. ”

Smith’s junior and senior crews play their home openers in double-header style, next Friday night at Exhibition Stadium.

Check grahamfootball.ca for more info.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police vehicle turns on to Landing Drive on the Skwah Reserve on Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
One man charged after allegedly pointing firearm at Chilliwack RCMP officer

Richard Joseph Williams faces 6 charges after March incident near McCammon elementary and Skwah

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court where she is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 78-year-old woman on Mary Street on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crown seeking jail time for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Trial of Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016 ended Monday

RCMP patch. (File)
Young prolific offender from Hope faces another raft of charges

Jacob Paul Sihata charged in 3rd set of serious incidents since he was 19

Former Merritt Centennial and current Chilliwack Chief Jackson Munro (left) evades Merritt’s Chase Cook during a weekend BCHL game at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Goalies lead Chilliwack Chiefs to pair of wins in weekend BCHL action

Mathieu Caron picked up a shutout Friday and Jakob Gullmes earned his first BCHL victory Sunday

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read