Justin Crooks (left) and Nick Butler (right) model the home and away jerseys the Sardis Falcons will wear when they hit the gridiron for the first time in 2018.

Sardis secondary has powerful ally as football program launches

B.C. Lions executive and Sardis alum George Chayka is ready to help the Falcons fly.

When Brad Geary announced the return of Falcon football in the fall of 2018, the Sardis secondary athletic director talked about the need to pull alumni in.

Launching football programs isn’t cheap, and Geary hoped former Sardis students would lead the fundraising charge.

George Chayka heard that call and answered it last Thursday night.

At the school’s year-end athletic banquet, Chayka donated $1,000 to the football resurrection.

The B.C. Lions vice president has also committed to mobilizing the Sardis alumni as a fundraising force.

It’s expensive to start up a program and it takes a community to be successful,” Chayka said. “It takes cooperation and commitment from the top down, from the school district to the adminstration, teachers and coaches and parents and players.

“It takes alumni as well and as soon as I’ve got the green light we are going to go to work for you.”

Chayka’s ties to Falcon football run deep.

The last time the school had a squad (in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s) Chayka played alongside B.C. Lions legend Rick Klassen.

The finest football player to ever come out of Chilliwack, Klassen enjoyed a 10 year Canadian Football League career that included a Grey Cup win in 1985.

Klassen passed away last December at the age of 57.

“When Brad called me and told me he wanted to bring the football program back, I was moved because I know just how proud Rick (Sardis alum Klassen) would be,” Chayka said. “I am making my donation in his memory.”

Chayka and Klassen were more than teammates and members of the Class of 1977. They struck up a friendship in Grade 9 and stayed close for four decades.

That friendship makes the Falcon football project so much more meaningful for Chayka.

“I think back to all the things that we learned playing football, things like goal setting and persistence and the desire to achieve,” he said. “I really love this game because I’ve always felt you don’t need to be the best athlete to be a good football player.

“What you need is heart and desire, and if you have those two qualities you can do great things.”

Chayka said Klassen had those two qualities in abundance and urged Sardis students to follow his example.

“Rick made his school proud, he made Chilliwack proud and he made the Fraser Valley proud,” Chayka said, looking at the student athletes in the banquet room. “Rick is a part of this school’s history and so are you.

“You’re also part of the future.

“It is an exciting time for this school.”

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