VI Raiders open camp in Alberni

Port Alberni is hosting a five-day football camp for Nanaimo's VI Raiders.

V.I. Raiders tailback Jordan Botel

Seventy-three athletes from across across the country boarded a bus in Nanaimo on Thursday and headed to Port Alberni for a five-day football camp.

Right now, they resemble Raiders. By the time they come back, they’ll truly be Raiders.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team, the V.I. Raiders, is about to strap on the pads and get started.

“What main camp really does is explains to everybody the Raider way, the way we like to do things here,” said Matthew “Snoop” Blokker, coach of the team.

“The talent is the talent, but more than anything it’s the Raider attitude. If we produce that then I think we’ve got a chance to compete.”

Of course, the Raiders want to do more than just compete. The five-time defending B.C. Football Conference champions have played in three straight Canadian Bowl games and want to get back there.

It’s a long process, though.

“We’re going to have some growing pains, because we’ve made some decisions to go with some younger guys in certain positions,” Blokker said.

One of the most interesting positional battles at main camp will be for the starting middle linebacker spot. There are plenty of other starting jobs on the line, too, particularly in the defensive-back corps and on the offensive line.

The Raiders believe they had great success recruiting this off-season, and their returning players trained harder than ever since last fall.

“We’ve got all the groceries – we’ve just got to figure out how to cook them,” Blokker said.

It starts with main camp, which the coach said will be physically and mentally demanding.

“We want to overwhelm them a little bit,” the coach said. “That’s part of the breakdown process of everybody forgetting where they came from. Because at this level, most of the guys that come to our program are all guys that have been extremely successful in their high school programs or midget programs.”

This year’s camp consists of nine practices and an intrasquad game at Bob Dailey Stadium in Port Alberni.

Camp tends to fall on the hottest weekend of the summer every year, adding to the physical toll.

“You don’t get a second to rest,” Blokker said. “Every step you take, everything you do, there’s coaches all over you.”

So the players will lean on each other to help them through, and that creates a brotherhood that’s intended to last all season long.

B.C. Lions player and former V.I. Raiders star Andrew Harris said the team-building aspect of camp is the most important part.

“For all the new guys that are coming in, just try to be part of the family and get into the mix. For the vets, they just need to be leaders and bring these new guys in,” Harris said.

“Main camp, from my past experience, it’s been more about the team coming together as a family and enjoying the time.”

GRID BITS … The intrasquad game will be held during Sunday afternoon’s practice, which is at 3:30 p.m. at Bob Dailey Stadium.

Just Posted

Drag races could return to Stamp Ave in Port Alberni in 2019

Thunder in the Valley might not return to the Alberni Valley Regional Airport this year

Climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall in the Alberni Valley

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Port Alberni poet shortlisted for B.C. award

Port Alberni’s Derek Hanebury is a former instructor at North Island College

Indigenous youth connect with their culture at Gathering Our Voices workshops

Secluded Wellness Centre in Port Alberni hosted traditional wildcraft sessions

Illegal cannabis club in Port Alberni ticketed again

RCMP seize cannabis, issue fine for second time in five months

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Prime Minister Trudeau comes campaigning in Nanaimo

A day after announcing a May 6 byelection date for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Justin Trudeau visits riding

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

Most Read