Jr Gaels ready to kick off new season after long pandemic delay
Kingston, ON/May 12, 2022 - Kingston’s Jr Gaels teams will kick off their Ontario Summer Football League U18 and U16 seasons in front of a home crowd and it will be their first action since the 2019 semifinals games.
The Jr Gaels will start the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, May 21, with a doubleheader against old rivals Myers Riders at Richardson Memorial Stadium. The U16 (junior varsity) game goes at 2:00 p.m., followed by the U18 (varsity) squad at 5:00 p.m.
In their last season, both squad head to playoffs where the third-place U18 Jr Gaels (3-5) lost to Ottawa Sooners (4-4), and the Stampeders (5-3) closed up the season for the U16 (4-4) team. The league cancelled its plans for abbreviated 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the elite down to the grassroots, the entire sports industry has navigated a tenuous return to activity. “It’s crazy to think that it will have been 1,036 days since we last stepped on the field to compete” president Alexandra Reyes-Walsh said of the Jr Gaels Football teams. "We basically lost 2 years, a generation of players and been hit catastrophically when it comes to the financial part with lost revenues. For us this means a rebuild from a player development perspective as well as a financial perspective and it might take up to five years to get back to where we were.” added Reyes-Walsh.
Coach Dales Sands who has been a has been the Director of Football Operations and Head Coach of the U18 team is ready for the challenge. “We’re very confident in our ability to develop our athletes,” Sands said. About the U18 squad, he added “We have a really good, talented group of coaches and athletes we’re balanced on both sides of the ball. So, we will wait and see what happens this season.”
Coach Travis Dezan joined the Jr Gaels coaching staff as the Head Coach of the U16 team. Although this Dezan’s 1st time as a Jr Gaels head coach, he has 10 years of experience under his belt an offensive coordinator at Banting SS and now as the Offensive Assistant and Football Operations Assistant with Queen's Football. “Travis brings a wealth of football knowledge and experience as well as possessing high character leadership abilities that will serve our student-athletes for years to come,” said Reyes-Walsh.
“I’m excited to be leading the U16 team, but we have a lot of work to do,” Dezan said. “I’m happy to be see the kids working hard and doing all things we ask of them. I’m blessed to have a great group of coaches that will help us get where we need to be and uphold the standard that’s been placed before us.”
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