After watching a video of their most recent football season, Sylvan Lake Lakers players enjoyed a catered dinner together before being presented awards at a banquet celebrating their season last Thursday.
Coaches Jeremy Braitenback and Jas Payne presented them with medals, plaques and cup awards.
Awards were given to Kyle Eckenswille for most valuable player, Korey Prediger for team leadership, Landon Rosen for offence, Tyrese Hamilton for rookie, Sulley Larocque for defence, Liam Hoven for lineman, Brandon Tweed for the Jeff Halvorson Memorial Award and Josh Rideout for most improved player.
The players were awestruck in receiving the awards, but accepted them with confidence as some even gave their coaches a hug.
The awards ceremony is a 16-year tradition which Braitenback said he always looks forward to.
“It’s always a blast,” Braitenback said. “I think it means a lot to these guys and it helps build our program as well for the next year and the year after.”
The season ended in November and Braitenback said they have the awards banquets in March to remind the players of the success they had last year as football camp is in May and the next season starts up at the end of August.
“We try to spread things out just so they remember that there’s football,” Braitenback said. “[They remember they] need to start working and be prepared for it because of the rewards. We remind them of what the season was like so they can be motivated for next year.”
After receiving their awards, the players reviewed a second video of their season that captured their hard work on the field. Braitenback said showing the players the videos reminds them of the success they had last year, which is a result of their hard work.
“If you want to have another championship banner and celebrate a year like this you have to put some effort in,” Braitenback said.
He said he is looking forward to next year and said the coaches have already been thinking about player positions and strategies. He said all the coaches are eager with their plans for the next season.
But with next season approaching, the coaches are presented with different challenges such as adapting to new players’ skills, he said.
Braitenback said the way the coaches will approach practices, their playbooks, their special teams and their strategies will be different.
He said the team’s defence will most likely be its strength as that’s where most of the Grade 12 players will be. Offence players, he said, will have to work on their skills, timing and game improvement.
“I think the defence is going to be ahead and they are going to have to carry us earlier in the year,” Braitenback said. “We will come along in the end.”