Spring Camp begins preparations for Broncos upcoming season

by Jan Antons

Spring Camp begins preparations for Broncos upcoming season
by Jamie Shinkewski

The Kamloops Broncos began preparing for the upcoming season as they hosted approximately 80 players at the 2017 Spring Camp at Hillside Stadium from May 12 to 14.

The camp gave coaches a chance to evaluate potential recruits, which wrapped up with a scrimmage Sunday afternoon, which for some players was the closest thing to game action they’ve seen since the fall.

“I’m pretty happy with what we saw,” said head coach Brad Yamaoka. “It looks like we have a very athletic bunch of players coming in this year and we’re excited for the season.”

One point of discussion was the role of current veterans and alumni helping to promote the Broncos and encourage new players to come to Kamloops. The field was full of former Broncos players who came out to help run the spring camp.

“I think we’ve done a good job of bringing in kids that want to be here, want to play football, they’re willing to learn and for the most part they come from good families,” Yamaoka said. “We want that family atmosphere. We want that Kamloops football old school mentality of we’re going to play hard but we’re going to stick together through thick and thin.”

Part of this year’s spring camp was a contingent of hopefuls from Langley, who are long-time friends of returnees Mike and Andrew Baerg.

“I’m long-time friends with the Baergs and they have nothing but good stuff to say about this team, about the environment that Kamloops has to bring and the coaches so I said I might as well give them a shot,” said first-time attendee Max Joseph. “Just like the Baergs said it’s a nice environment out here and I’m liking it, it’s a good first impression.”

“A bunch of great friends I’ve known since day one had nothing but great things to say about the program so it was really great to have my chance to come experience it all and take it all in,” echoed receiver Darian Pritchard.

Mike, a defensive back who started all 10 games as a rookie last season, said he noticed all the work his veteran teammates put in and wanted to take on that leadership role himself by bringing some potential future teammates to the camp.

“(President Dino Bernardo) and (general manager Jan Antons) really preach the whole family part and our alumni that have graduated and played somewhere else, they all love coming back and they’re all still a part of the team in one way or another,” Mike said. “They’re a part of the history and we will be too some day.”

The home facilities stood out for the new camp attendees before they went to clean out the locker room to make way for the B.C. Lions training camp in the coming weeks.

“It’s an astounding field. You have a CFL team coming here it just puts it into perspective. They could practice anywhere they want in BC and they come here its for a reason,” said running-back hopeful Zander Bailey. “It’s an amazing gym facility, they’ve got the good university here. It’s a really good area, it’s a good stadium.”

“If a pro team choses this type of facility to come practice, you know it’s legit,” Joseph said, who said he is considering attending Thompson Rivers University. “From my experience, I can verify this is a legit program and this field they have is amazing, the training rooms, the big huge gym they have in there is awesome because I like to play ball as well. The (university) dorms are awesome, clean and comfy, and I think I could do four months here.”

Upon the completion of spring camp, the next step for the Broncos coaching staff will be to evaluate the players in attendance and make commitments to the first wave of recruits on the June 1 signing day.

We obviously have our shortlist of guys we want to get here and there’s some players I think are going to be impact players right away,” Yamaoka said. “Then, there’s going to be a bunch of guys we want to get here and build the future. The kids that come here and stick it out, they end up being very successful.

We want to make sure we can accommodate everybody and make sure what their goals are, what we can do to help them and everything matches up and make it a very positive experience for these guys to come to Kamloops."

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Spring Camp 2017