Eight youth football players from White Rock, Surrey and Cloverdale got the chance to hob-nob with a number of high-profile professionals last Thursday at the BC Lions’ Orange Helmet Awards Dinner.
White Rock-South Surrey Titans’ Michael Giustino and Niko Pavicic, as well as Cloverdale Cougars’ Declan Deluz, Noah Anderson, Mason Gillis, Taran Birdi and Corbin Grant, and Holy Cross Crusaders’ Jack Laurin attended the awards gala – held at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel – along with other teammates from three Team BC teams that travelled to Las Vegas in January for the High Roller National Tournament. The high-schoolers were invited to the event as part of a salute to amateur football in B.C.
“It’s nice to celebrate amateur sports – especially amateur football – in our province,” BC Lions’ head coach and general manager Wally Buono, a South Surrey resident, told Peace Arch News last week.
“It gives all the players some recognition, which I think is very important.”
Each player was paired with a BC Lion player during the Orange Helmet opening ceremony, and they also attended a pre-event meet-and-greet with keynote speaker Cam Wake, a former Lion who now plays south of the border with the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins.
The Vegas High Roller Tournament, for which the eight players were honoured, is one of the top amateur football tournaments in the U.S., and features some of the best youth players in the States and Canada. The event – which has three divisions, Grade 8, under-16 and under-18 – is also heavily scouted by college coaches.
While with Team BC, players had the chance to learn from an impressive list of coaches, including former Lions’ offensive lineman Angus Reid, former CFL defensive back Will Loftus and current Lions’ star linebacker Adam Bighill.