Friday, March 6, 2009

The Strength of Ballenas

The Strength Of Ballenas

One of the hi-lites of my year is the annual Border Battle versus our arch-rival Ballenas H.S. up-the-road in Parksville. It is a game like no other on our schedule with a playoff atmosphere to it and much, much more. The alumni from each program find a way to get to this one no matter what and along with them, the parents from years past from both squads. There are plenty of town folk and there are representatives from BCFC, University guys that can swing by and a ton of local media. They are all a part of the spectacle, they make it even better and both teams never leave-em disappointed about the game!

For the two hours that both teams are on the field the atmosphere is electric! The hits feel bigger, the game faster and boy oh boy is there some intensity. No matter what the score winds up being year-to-year, there is some crazy smacking going on. Practices leading up to the big game are better and there is a real sense of urgency to everything that goes on in terms of preparation. Both coaching staffs start stealing scouting time for the Border Battle weeks in advance and it would be an outright fib to say that part of our offense and defense is not specifically geared from the git-go to bring an edge into the game. Opportunity season training is no different. I can’t help but finding myself thinking as our players go through their workouts in the Iron Den that each rep might be a factor in that big game eight months down the road. Are we outworking The Whalers? Are we finding our best within ourselves? Are we giving it our best shot every time we go to work? I sure hope so because if we don’t we are going to be in it deep come October.

Now to be honest, the Border Battle has been pretty much an even split with Barsby holding a 5-4 advantage in the total series. No one is keeping count of course (grin) but it goes something like this:

2000 Barsby
2001 Barsby
2002 Ballenas
2003 Barsby
2004 Ballenas
2005 Barsby
2006 Barsby
2007 Ballenas
2008 Ballenas

The wounds of the past two years still pain the crew down in Harewood. The feeling of coming up-short is still raw in a spiritual sense and it always there to tell you that you have to find it within yourself to get better at all levels, constantly. There is no pretty way to say this so I just will: Losing to Ballenas Sucks!

Now, I want to say something else. Coaching and playing high school football from this child’s perspective would suck if Ballenas wasn’t lurking out there! Playing Ballenas and preparing for Ballenas is not only a huge challenge, it is FUN! The better Ballenas is, the better we have to be. They bring out the best in our selves and they make our football lives oh so much better by being what they are, which is one hell of a great program. Therefore, the saying round these parts “The Strength of Ballenas is the Strength of Barsby”. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say this as well; beating those doggone Whalers feels pretty damn good too.

Coach Hines up at Ballenas is my friend and I his. The Ballenas and Barsby coaching staff’s by and large know each other and get along quite well. Together, outside of those two hours each Fall, we have grown to work together to support one another. We have cooperated for many years now to assist our respective feeder programs in their development, we work together to run development camps at all levels, to run combines, to run coaching clinics and to recruit referees that we all benefit from being available to allocate for games. We share scouting information and we are pretty candid about sharing our own honest self-scouts with one another. The relationship goes deeper as well, I know that if I’ve got a football or life problem that I can always pick-up the phone and give my friend a shout…same for him. Life is better when Coach Hines and his beloved Whalers are in top form!!

I believe that in one shade or another, this relationship holds true with every team on the Island, in our division and ultimately in AA ball. The strength of our greatest rivals is in many ways, our greatest strength. Other than those two hours that we slug it out and match wits on the turf, working together and helping each other out is a win-win proposition.

Go Dukes! Go Maroons! Go Seahawks! Go Trojans! Go Rams! Go Wolves! and of course, Go Whalers!!

Looking forward to seeing a ton of blue helmets at this year’s Camp!

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