YORKTON – Three athletes from the senior Raider football team are headed to B.C. to play in the Canadian Junior Football League.
Grade 12 students Brayden VanSomeren, Noah Schneider, and Kaleb Larsen of the Yorkton Regioan High School have committed to joining the Prince George Kodiaks.
"They are a new team this year and are looking for players, so we all sent our stuff in and we got asked if we wanted to commit," said Schneider, running back for the YRHS senior football team.
"The CJFL and Kodiaks Football Club in Prince George are proud to announce that they have been granted an expansion Junior Football franchise by the British Columbia Football Conference. The Kodiaks will take the field starting in 2022 and become the seventh team within the BC Conference and 19th across the CJFL," read a statement on the CJFL's website.
"A lot of these guys [who play in the league] get asked to go to the CFL, so you're looking to play a lot of high-level football out there," said VanSomeren, who was played wide receiver for the senior team.
"Not many kids get to go out and do this kind of stuff, so when you get the opportunity to do it you just run with it," said VonSomeren.
"It's a big leap from home, but the new opportunities are going to be fun," said Larsen, defensive lineman.
Larsen said he'll also be attending the University of Northern British Columbia.
"I'm going to the UNBC and we'll see what happens from there."
The trio reflected on their time with the high school football team and thanked the people who supported them throughout their endeavours.
"I'd like to thank my parents, both my mom, dad and step-dad," said Schneider, adding, "they've been super supportive throughout the whole thing."
VanSomeren thanked his mother
"She's always been my right-hand man, I couldn't have done it without her," said VanSomeren.
Larsen credited his family for the support they offered him.
"My dad - I said to him that I was done with football and he was like 'No way. You're not. You can do more'," adding, "my mom has been really supportive, she's been at every game - same with my step-dad and my step-mom, they're always there."
Of course, the team-mates also took the time to thank their past coaches.
"Coach Boyda gave me the opportunity to play up and put me in the position I was to [be able to] succeed," said Schneider, adding, "I'd also like to thank Coach Kyle, he was our junior coach - we had a really good season - my last year of junior we won the whole thing."
"Even when [the games] weren't close, he would always tell us to stay sharp and push us hard the next week to make sure we never let off," adding, "two years ago was my second year playing junior - that was the first time our junior team at this school had ever won the league."
"It felt pretty good to be able to bring it home for Coach Kyle for the first time," said Schneider.
"I wouldn't be playing football if it wasn't for Coach Boyda," said VanSomeren, who had taken a break from the sport when Boyda approached him after a basketball tournament and asked him to come back.
"Boyda for sure - without him none of this would happen," said Larsen, adding, "same with Mr. Kyle - he convinced me to play - I played for the high school when I was in grade 8 because I didn't meet the weight limit for peewee, so I played bantam."
"Throughout the past four years all the coaches here have made it a super good place to be," said Schneider, adding, ""they have created an amazing environment for football and in school - they're always making sure that we're doing the best we can both on and off the field."
"Last season, due to COVID and everything - we didn't get our season, but the coaches put together a small spring league for us, and we got to go on one last ride with our grade twelves last year," said VanSomeren, adding, "that was something really nice that the coaches put together for us."
The trio also reflected on past achievements.
"The provincial championship - that was fantastic," said VanSomeren, "25-years in the making- that's what they told us before the game - and after the game it sure felt like it."
Schneider recalled his time in the Selects Football program.
"We went down to San Antonio - we didn't do the best, but this year I went back to the program - we went down there again and we won the tournament this time around, so that was pretty exciting."
Larsen also reminisced of the championship game the team won.
"The championship game for junior - we were always up all the time - it was a really good feeling when we won. We blew them off the board," said Larsen, noting, "that was the first time in 22 years that [the YRHS] had won. It was awesome because no one thought that we were going to win."
The three also thanked Yorkton Minor Football.
"Shout out to the Yorkton Minor Football program as a whole," said VanSomeren, adding "every year we always have people coming in and out of this program, and every year it seems six or seven guys are always going off to university."
"Huge thanks to all the coaches who put in the time and effort - throughout going and teaching and working their jobs then coming out and coaching us - it's phenomenal - for us to repay them with going on to play in university and getting our time on the map - it's awesome," said VonSomeren.
Larsen agreed that YMF played an important role in their success.
"It's more like a family, they always said that football is family and stuff like that, and ever since I started playing - I have buddies that I wouldn't have had if it weren't for football," said Larsen.
Schneider also agreed.
"It's been one of the best environments I've been a part of and I can't wait to see what they can do in the future."