Sooke football coach has no plans on stopping

Sooke football coach has no plans on stopping

Tony Nelson has played multiple sports his entire life

Thunderbirds pee wee football coach Tony Nelson has been coaching in Sooke for the last five years, and has no plans on stopping.

Nelson has played multiple sports throughout his entire life, including lacrosse, baseball, hockey and soccer, but surprisingly enough, he’s never played football.

“My son came home one day and told me he wanted to play football, and I thought coaching would give me a good opportunity to spend some quality time with him, so that’s kind of how I got started,” said Nelson.

“I had played a little flag football and followed the CFL so I wasn’t totally lost, but I had a lot to learn.”

This year Nelson is not coaching his son Gabriel’s team, who now plays in the bantam age group. He was planning on taking a step back but saw there was no one available to coach the pee wee team, so he decided to take it on.

“I was going to miss coaching too much. I love being around the kids and watching them develop as players and as people,” said Nelson. “These experiences are something both the players and I will have for life. It’s very gratifying.”

Each season, Nelson spends about 10 hours a week volunteering his time at practices, games, and learning different coaching techniques.

Nelson said football is a great way for kids to learn sportsmanship and socialize, adding that it helped his son come out of his shell.

“I love the whole aspect of sports and what it can do for children. It really brings out the best in them I think,” Nelson said. “Before football, my son was very shy and didn’t like the spotlight, I never thought he would play a team sport. But he has completely blossomed and it has carried on from football into his everyday life.”

Nelson said he likes football because it’s a sport that anyone can find a role in, and because of how players have to work together.

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“You don’t necessarily have to be the fastest or the strongest, there’s a place for every player regardless of their shape or size,” he said. “It’s such a team sport, everyone looks out for each other and I love the comradery that comes with it.”

This year’s season is starting soon, and Nelson is looking forward to getting to know all the players and coaches. He has no expectations heading in, because this year’s team has a lot of players who are completely new to the sport.

“I just want to have some fun, and make sure the players have a positive experience and want to come back next year,” said Nelson. “It’s going to be challenging because every child learns differently, so I just sort of have to be a coach of many different hats.”

His personal goal is to relay what he knows about the sport to the kids without making it confusing, and make sure the kids are “smiling at the end of the day.”

“My other main focus is to teach sportsmanship to the team. No matter if they win or lose, that they go out and do their best, keep their chins up, and encourage their teammates,” he said. “I like trying to being a good influence on the kids. I have learned from my mistakes and my triumphs and I just hope to pass my knowledge on to them.”

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