ADAM JACKSON/Black Press
For members of the William E Hay Wildcats football team, it’s been a long off-season.
After a disappointing loss to end last season for the youngsters, many players are coming back to the team for another chance at victory.
“We have about 24 returning players,” said Norbert Baharally, head coach of 25 years and school principal.
On a team that normally carries 34 or 35 players, the chemistry built up after playing a season together already will benefit the team, says Baharally.
Last season, the team finished third in the league, lost in the semifinals, but also went to provincials where they lost to Peace River in the northern finals.
“I’m excited for the season, I think we’ll do very well this year,” said Baharally. “I think we’ll be very competitive, we have the possibility of winning a championship this year if we stay healthy and keep our numbers up.”
Baharally sees more positives than just returning players.
“We have a lot of good new Grade 9 players coming up into Grade 10 for next year. We’ll be solid for the next couple years, I think.”
Being the principal and coach of the football team has made Baharally wear two hats during football season at William E. Hay, but most of the students are receptive to his double role, says Baharally.
“When we’re off of the football field, I’m the principal. When we’re on the football field, I’m their coach,” said Baharally. “But the other thing that they need to understand is every time we’re on the field and I’m representing them as a coach, they can’t be putting me in a difficult position.”
“They understand that and it has been working out pretty well so far. There’s a mutual respect, we all have good relationships.”
A spring training camp was held May 17 to 19, and other camps are set up between now and the end of the year to help the students deal with the heavy workload in the later part of the year.
The team will also attend a jamboree-style tournament in Canmore on June 4.