“We are in full equipment and at the Kate Andrews High School (KAHS) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jake McLaren, head of the football program.
According to McLaren, warm-ups and skills training begins at 5:15 p.m. on those three days with practice starting at 6 p.m. at Kate Andrews High School in Coaldale. “I basically started this program with the help of a couple of parents last year. We’re in our second season and we’ve grown by exactly 100 per cent. We have two times as many kids out this year as we had last year,” explained McLaren, adding the first game is scheduled for Sept. 4 at the Quads in Coaldale.
“When we’re in Coaldale we play at the Quads. We also play a lot of games in Lethbridge. We have five games at the University of Lethbridge stadium this year, which is a lot of fun. Nine year olds don’t usually get to play on AstroTurf and under the lights and in front of bleachers. Our kids really enjoy it when they get those games,” said McLaren.
McLaren said the Junior Pride football program is a member of the Lethbridge Minor Football Association and as a league member — the association pays for the rent of the Lethbridge field at the U of L and schedules the games during the season.
“I’m very excited that we’ve grown so much. The last year being the first year we kind of took our lumps and the kids got tired during the games because there weren’t enough substitutions and all season long I just harped, bring out your friends. The kids bought in and this year they all brought out a friend and we got twice as many kids. The numbers are growing and we’ll develop their skills and it should be a good season. It’ll be a lot of fun,” said McLaren, who will be coaching community football for his 17th season this year.
McLaren previously was a coach in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge.
“I live in Coaldale. When I was talking to the high school about football in our community, it was sort of a joint agreement that the high school would like a feeder program that’s a little bit closer affiliated to their school and their systems,” added McLaren, in regards to his collaborative effort with KAHS.