V.I. Raiders receiver Dustin Rodriguez makes a one-handed catch during a drill last Wednesday night at Merle Logan Field.

V.I. Raiders receiver Dustin Rodriguez makes a one-handed catch during a drill last Wednesday night at Merle Logan Field.

Raiders reunite for main camp

The V.I. Raiders will pack up their football gear, go to main camp and try to return as a team.

The V.I. Raiders will pack up their football gear, go to main camp and try to return as a team.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League club takes its next step toward its 10th-anniversary season this week as it strikes main camp at Port Alberni on Thursday (July 17),

It will be the first Raiders main camp run by new head coach Brian Ridgeway, and he’s looking forward to it after spending the off-season general managing and handling all the off-field duties that fall on a junior football coach.

“Actually getting to practise is going to be awesome because we’ll be getting into the stuff I know really well,” he said.

Players have been anticipating camp for awhile now. Guys have been trickling into town lately and the throw-arounds have become more productive.

“They’ve asked us to come and coach and do a little more and get a little more intensity to it, so that’s fine with us,” Ridgeway said. “But it’s still their time. We want to make sure that they have a good culture together.”

Guys haven’t gotten their playbooks yet, but coaches have been able to pass along some of their philosophies.

“We’ve got a good pace going now at practice,” said Marshall Cook, Raiders receiver. “Everything feels good and it’s exciting to get into camp now and finally get pads on again and get going.”

Main camp is physically challenging, but Ridgeway doesn’t want it to be overly punishing.

“There’s two philosophies – you either go in hitting and grind them down and that’s how you build them up. I don’t really agree with that,” he said. “We can still work all our stuff without turning everybody into hamburger.”

Camp is five days long and three of those days will include two-a-day practices totalling four hours, plus four and a half hours of meetings.

“So it’s an all-day thing and even if you’re not beating on them, it’s physically exhausting and mentally exhausting,” Ridgeway said.

Cook said the important thing is to keep the right frame of mind at main camp.

“You get tired, and the big thing is staying mentally fresh and keeping your mind right and being able to hold through in that fifth day of practice when you’re body’s wearing down a little bit,” he said.

Players will all have something to prove at camp. Whatever they’ve done for the Raiders in the past, they now have new coaches to impress. As the Raiders rejig, Ridgeway said he’ll go with 18-year-olds over 22-year-olds if it’s a close call.

“It shouldn’t be close,” he said. “Your veterans should be that much better.”

One more factor at main camp is the time crunch. The football season is coming sooner than later, with the Raiders opening up the B.C. Football Conference schedule on the road at Langley on July 26.

“It’s not like we have three pre-season games to get ready,” Ridgeway said. “So we have to be smart about how we work on that training camp weekend with regards to being fresh on [July 26] to play.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @BulletinSports

Just Posted

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

Most Read