Generally, this is a space I devout to being an armchair sports fan. While this is very much a local community newspaper, when it comes to sports, fans take a much broader approach to what is considered community.
Anyone who wears a Roughrider jersey while sitting at home watching the team play on the television is certainly part of the fan community of the team when it comes to the Canadian Football League franchise.
I am proudly among a growing legion of fans who count themselves part of Rush Nation in support of our province’s National Lacrosse League team.
And there are many who feel part of ‘We The North’ in supporting the Toronto Raptors, a community which is most certainly a coast-to-coast sensation among Canadian basketball fans.
But this week I have to draw things back closer to home.
In the next 10 days, a couple of major sport events are taking place in our city which might interest local fans.
The annual ‘Friday Nite Lights’ game takes place this week with the Yorkton Regional Raider Gridders hosting Weyburn at Century Field.
The game, which kicks-off at 7 p.m., has become the showcase game of the season for the Raiders, a team that is coming off a 2017 season where they won their league’s championship and made it to the provincial final before losing a game.
The Raider program is a strong one, based in-part on a minor football program which is developing young players so they are ready to fit in and contribute when they hit the high school program.
While 2017 will be long-remembered for its successes, the Raider program has been producing some very good football players of late.
That success is reflected in the number of former Raiders playing college ball.
Canada West (Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association) is one of the top college football conferences in the country. The games of the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan are fortunately being shown on SaskTel Max and it is a great opportunity to see more three-down football and a preview of some of the players who will progress to the CFL.
It’s also a chance to watch former Raiders.
Layne Hull and Grey McKen are with the U of R Rams, while Noah Zerr and Matthew Mandzuik are on the U of S Huskies.
Mike and Peter Kozushka are with the U of A Golden Bears.
They are all starters except Mandzuik, who is a true freshman and will redshirt this season, reported Raider coach Roby Sharpe.
Caleb Bymak was with Calgary but was forced to retire due to injuries.
Also on the horizon is the start of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season.
The local Terriers start action on the road Friday in Weyburn, head to Estevan Tuesday and then start defence of the Farrell Agencies Arena next Friday (Sept. 21) against the Red Wings.
Frankly, I will say the league probably starts too soon, and that is not just because I don’t like the way hockey bleeds into late summer and late spring these days. The Terriers, and frankly most teams in the SJHL these days, struggle for fan numbers, and it is not helpful when rural fans (those who farm) are likely to miss games the first few weeks of the season because harvest trumps junior hockey.
But alas the league has gone down the early start road, so fans not busy with the options of fall will want to remember the home opener.