Every August, university sport athletes, including me, eagerly await the start of training camp as it officially kicks off the upcoming football season. Doing two practice sessions each day in the humid summer air is generally not very fun for athletes, however, the team’s goals serve as motivation and help get us all through it.

Football is a game of inches. Every time we hit the field, we need to give it our all, leaving everything on the field and nothing in the tank. Not only is this a team philosophy, it is a motto and a culture that must be top of mind if a team has any hope of being successful.

That was my football team this year – the 2016 edition of the University of Manitoba Bisons. We were an experienced group made up of veterans and a few key rookies.  The team was perfectly positioned to make some noise this past season.

Football is a game of inches. Every time we hit the field, we need to give it our all, leaving everything on the field and nothing in the tank.

We began the season in dominant fashion by beating the University of British Columbia, the defending National Champions, by a score of 50-7. It would be an understatement to say that we gained just a bit of confidence following this game. We knew then that we could make a run at this thing and chase our collective goal of a Vanier Cup.

Then, 14 of our starters got injured and in the last three weeks of our season, 24 players were quarantined for the mumps. We were a depleted bunch, but we were still going to fight, and fight we did. In times of adversity, one’s true colours are shown.  Since I was the captain and leader of the team, I knew I just had to put my head down and lead by example.

With each passing week, the team gave its best but, unfortunately, mistakes, big and small, were still part of the game. We finished the season tied for 4th place and were unable to advance to the postseason.  It is important to learn from our experiences and to critique all that we do so that the next time we are in a similar situation, we have the upper hand.

This is a team game, twelve men playing in one system, one uniform, and one colour. We pride ourselves on being relentless, tough, and hard to play against and each of us took that to heart this season. We not only played for each other, but for the opportunity to play one more game together.Unfortunately, we fell short this season, and only one team gets to win. We congratulate Laval University on this accomplishment.

This is a team game, twelve men playing in one system, one uniform, and one colour…We not only played for each other, but for the opportunity to play one more game together.

Once the season is complete, awards and trophies serve as a silver lining and are a token of appreciation and respect. This year, even though I was the fortunate recipient of the Presidents’ Trophy, it was an award for all of us with a unified meaning to our entire team for their hard work and perseverance.

Without my teammates, the award would not have been possible, which is why I can’t thank them enough. I feel the same way about our coaching staff who put us in a great position each and every week. My special thanks to each of them.

The success of one is dependent on the success of the whole group. My team is what I need in order to be successful, not just in football, but also in life.  We are Manitoba Bisons and, this year, we are Presidents’ Trophy recipients.