On a glorious Sunday evening at Warrior Field, the University of Waterloo Warriors Men’s Varsity Football team took its first steps up the ladder towards OUA football respectability. Not an easy step, not the prettiest step, but definitely a positive step. A step in the right direction. A step taken as a team.
Although the score may not have indicated total success (78-7), make no mistake about it- this young football team is doing what it takes to earn respect. Under the leadership of newly hired Head Coach Chris Bertoia, a UW alumni who enjoyed great success during the Warrior Football Golden Years, the team rallied, played hard, and laid some solid licks against a very high ranked Guelph Gryphons football team.
“They brought it for 60 minutes” said Coach Bertoia, when describing the effort put forward by his young varsity squad. In Coach Bertoia’s eyes, and in that of the barrage of alumni, new sponsors, and UW administration who were present at the game, that effort was the expectation going into this season- and the players most definitely brought it.
With a lopsided score in favour of the Gryphons up on the scoreboard, none of the young men on the sideline seemed discouraged- quite the contrary, in fact. The positive attitude, never back down from any opponent, and have each others’ back mentality that Coach Bertoia has tried to instill in his few months at the helm was clearly visible on the sideline, to the admiration of those watching from the stands.
The University of Waterloo Football team is not unlike any other OUA football squad in that this is a physical game, and the season is long. There will be ups and downs, bumps and bruises, injuries, and issues sprouting from every angle. This is a fact of life for all those involved in varsity athletics. The true measure of respect lies in the old adage- it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but if you can get up and keep coming back for more (and in Coach Bertoia’s particular case, coming back with a BIG smile). It was evident that even against a very high powered opponent, no Warrior stood alone, and no Warrior stayed down. This is the kind of team that you can’t help to want to watch in person, and to watch grow as a unit.
Expectations for change were voiced by the community and UW alumni at the end of last season. A challenge. A challenge to the University of Waterloo administration for commitment to the Football program. The University accepted it. The University of Waterloo presented Chris Bertoia with a challenge. In the offseason, he has not only accepted, but surpassed the expectations. Coach Bertoia has presented his players and coaching staff with a challenge. To never back down. To improve on every play. To have each others’ backs always. On Sunday night, during the season opener and beginning of a new era in Warrior football- the boys delivered.
Photo credit: Brooks Photography