The league champion H.J. Cody Lakers Football team held a banquet to honour the team and individual successes of their squad.
“It brings closure,” Lakers MVP wide receiver Tyrese Hamilton said. “It is the final chapter of my high school career and this banquet is the last piece of the cake. I am enjoying every second of it.”
Lakers Coach Jeremy Braitenbach, who emceed the banquet, agreed with his star player.
“I think it gives closure to our season and puts it into perspective for everyone in our Laker family,” he said, adding that the banquet, “It is something that is needed.
“We like to wait a little bit to think about things, especially with awards and not jumping right into them,” he said. “It is a way to start looking forward to next year and spring camp as well.”
Along with individual awards and trophies, each Laker is called up by their coaches to be recognized and congratulated for their hard work.
“That is what is unique about this banquet,” Braitenbach said.
“We like to do that. We spend hundreds of hours with them and to be able to express our caring for these guys is not that hard for us.”
For Hamilton, the MVP award was the culmination of years and dedication.
“It feels really good,” he said. “A lot of it was a process. It started with my rookie year when I won rookie MVP, then in Grade 11 with Offensive MVP and then this year with MVP. It was a lot of hard work and dedication and I guess that really does pay off in the end.”
While the individual success was a welcome one for Hamilton, being able to play with the Lakers’ coaches, players and community was a special joy.
“It was an awesome experience,” he said. “It was one of the best, if not the best experience of my life so far. The people I’ve met, my coaches, my family and all the support I have had so far and what football will give me and has already given me is awesome. I hope I have as much success there as I did here.”
Moving on from players like Hamilton and the rest of the senior Lakers is always hard on a coaching staff.
“That is always a tough one and replacing them is difficult as well,” Braitenbach said. They become almost like sons to you. They leave but they often come back because they are Lakers forever.”
Braitenbach attributed the large amount of Laker dedication to Minor League Football in Sylvan Lake and the excellent coaches throughout that development system.
“It is a great relationship,” he said. “I think a lot of it has to do with our minor program – Minor Football in Sylvan Lake and the coaches in that program. The success of the Lakers year after year keeps bringing people out and the legend grows I guess.”
Braitenbach added that he wanted to, “Thank everyone who contributed and everyone who came out tonight. We will do it all again next year.”
Hamilton was also grateful.
“I have to say thank you to everyone that supported me along the way, especially my coaches – Braitenbach, [Jas] Payne and everyone else that has given me this opportunity,” he said. “I plan to come back next year when I can.”