Fayden Gramyk admits that, statistically, it was not very likely that Team Saskatchewan would win the U18 Football Canada Cup. The province has a relatively small population, and as a result they went into the tournament, held in Calgary, AB from July 15-22, as the underdog. The 16 year-old, who plays defensive line with the YRHS Raiders during the regular season, said something clicks when Team Saskatchewan gets together.
“Other teams are taller, they weigh more. But something happens when we play as a team. We can dominate the other teams.”
They dominated from the outset, beating Team Manitoba 48-6 in the opening game, before handing Team Ontario a loss in their second with a score of 32-8.
That set them up for the gold medal match against Team Alberta. That was the closest game of the tournament, and Gramyk describes it as being the kind of contest that gets the adrenaline going right to the end. With a score of 35-26, Team Saskatchewan took the gold medal, for the first time since 2009.
“It was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had. It was unreal to think that we won a national championship and that we’re the best team out of all the provinces,” said Gramyk.
Football is a team game of course, and Gramyk notes that from the coaching staff, support staff, and the players worked hard to put their game together.
“We gelled together pretty fast because we all knew each other somewhat.”
At 16, it was Gramyk’s first chance to play at this level.
“It was a good little eye opener. There are a lot of big dudes out there and I know what I have to do to prepare for next year.”
The process of forming a team began with 180 players from across the province. From there, it was cut to 100 for a Top 100 camp, which was then cut to 40 for the final roster.
“I was pretty glad that I made it.”
He appreciates the opportunity to represent the best in football in the province.
“It’s awesome to be able to put on those bright green Saskatchewan jerseys and know that you’re going to represent the province and the country good and hopefully bring a medal back.”
Gramyk has also played in the International Bowl in January as well as the Saskatchewan Selects team that played at the International Pigskin Classic, both in Texas. He appreciates the opportunity to see the best players on the continent.
“You get to see high level competition. It gives you a measuring tool to see how hard you have to work if you want to play at the next level.”
Gramyk’s current focus is closer to home, as he gets ready for the YRHS Raiders’ football season.
“We are thinking this could be the year for our provincial title.”
Beyond that, football remains Gramyk’s focus, and he hopes he will be able to use his skills on the field to get a scholarship and continue with the game after his high school career is over.