Our Grade 8 Football Season at Notre Dame started in the hot summer month of July 2021.
By | Caleb Parrotta (grade 8)
I will never forget the mix of excitement and nervousness I felt when I walked onto the field for the very first time. My teammates and I were new to the school and the ND football program. Some of us had never even played tackle football before!
Those blistered hot summer days were filled with repetitive drills that often pushed us to our limits, which we found fulfilling and rewarding.
Coach Briones, Coach Santalucia and Coach Battistin all met the gold standard of good coaching: each of them maintained a welcoming but strict attitude. During practices, they would emphasize the importance of teamwork. They continued to provide us with constructive feedback, informing us that improving at football was a slow and steady process.
As we entered the preseason, we felt unstoppable. This unearned confidence brought karma, and we lost our first preseason game to our arch rival Vancouver College (34-12).
As demoralizing as the loss was, the coaches were very understanding and supportive.
Our teamwork improved as the weeks progressed. The coaches started to position us and play us to our strengths. We grew closer to each other and began to trust in our abilities.
We went on to win each of our league games, going 3-0; beating Vancouver College (in a rematch) 6-0, Lord Tweedsmuir 14-6, and St. Thomas More 14-7 in overtime.
Now first in the division, we were then put up against Lord Tweedsmuir in the semifinals. Our improved teamwork paid off, and we won the game, thus earning the right to represent Notre Dame in the Championship Game at BC Place.
We were especially animated during practices that following week; practices took place in the gym and in the classroom. By this point, we began to think that we had formed a “brotherhood.”
On the morning of Saturday, November 21, 2021, we arrived at Notre Dame at about 6:30 am to board the bus to BC Place.
Entering the stadium and getting suited in the dressing room was like nothing any of us had experienced. We felt as if we were professional athletes.
It was difficult to forget that we were a relatively small team in numbers and that many of us had never played an official tackle football game. Now we were about to play against the twice-our-size Vancouver College team.
We won the coin toss and were elected to kickoff. By going three and out, we gained a preliminary advantage. Unfortunately, we found ourselves down 15-0 by the end of the first quarter.
During halftime, Coach Briones reminded us that the game was not over yet! Again he stressed the importance of teamwork and individual responsibility.
We regained our morale and scored a touchdown early in the 3rd quarter. We continued to ride this high and moved the ball on offence. A few possessions later, we scored another touchdown, but our newly acquired tie was called back on a very suspect penalty.
We continued to carry the play the entire second half. Unfortunately, we were not able to tie the game before the clock struck 00:00, leaving many of us dejected and disappointed; our coaches, however, were very proud of us.
We may not have won that final game, but we had accomplished something equally important: we were able to build long-standing friendships and support each other.
As the saying goes, it is not how you start, but how you finish. To be honest, we finished on top!