Squamish highschool football team in danger of being disbanded

In order to be saved, the group needs 26 players by April 30

The Howe Sound Sounders football team has made the playoffs nine times in the last 10 years, including four appearances in the finals — but that record may be drawing to a close.

The group, which has been operating in the school since the 1960s, is in danger of disbanding.

Coach Jim Errington has confirmed they need 26 players by April 30, or it will cease to exist. As of now, there are between eight and 10 students who've committed.

It's unlikely the team can be resurrected in another year, should registration fall short this season.

For many on the team, the prospect of losing football could be a huge blow.

Errington said that there aren't any other places in Squamish where youth can play in a formal league setting.

"There's a lot of kids who can use this sport for outlets. So some kids maybe have stress issues, so we can use that, like, all that physical exertion, to channel the stress into something we can use," said Noah Oliver, a Grade 11 student playing on the team.

"Another thing is the senior students... we have scholarship opportunities that are being taken from us."

Oliver said it could leave a gaping hole in some students' lives. The team practises their craft up to five nights a week.

"All this time that I put towards working to where I am now, all of a sudden it's gone and we have nothing to do," he said.

For football players, the sport can really help turn around a bad day, he said. For some, it can provide a refuge from family issues, he added.

Bri Oliver, his mother, added that the news came as a blow.

"We didn't see it coming — the kids were absolutely crushed, like beyond belief," she said.

Bri said that the sport changed her son's life.

"For him to have that ripped away... is heartbreaking. He planned on applying for scholarships based on football," she said.

"That's all possibly going to be taken away from him in two months, which really sucks."

The Olivers weren't the only ones speaking out about the issue.

Keegan Taylor, another Grade 11 player, said the sport got him through some challenges in his life.

"Personally, a few years back — this is when I started playing football — I was going through a really stressful time because of my family issues," said Taylor. "It's basically just like the physical outlet."

He said this sport helped more than others that he's tried out.

Errington also agreed that there were things football provides that can't be found in other sports.

He acknowledged the risks of the activity but said it develops a team unlike anything else.

"Most of these guys would never even hang out with each other," Errington said.

It brings very different people together, he said.

"I've coached other sports, and I can't think of any sport that has to be this co-ordinated," Errington said.

"You don't want to be flipping out on other players because you need them. And that kind of thing, well... it applies in a lot of different areas."

When contacted regarding the matter, Howe Sound principal Nick Pascuzzi issued an email comment that read:

"We're committed to providing the opportunity for students to participate in football. However, there needs to be a certain number of players to [safely] field the team. We can't comment on current numbers as registration is ongoing, but we encourage all interested students to register by April 30."

Those interested in signing up can approach the front office at Howe Sound Secondary.

Until the end of April, the team will be doing conditioning exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Howe Sound gym from 6 to 8 p.m.

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