A humble Larry Olexiuk felt the love as the football fraternity, family and friends embraced the man called Coach O during Saturday’s renaming ceremony at Riel Recreation Park.
Larry Olexiuk Field was officially christened during Minor Football Day in St. Albert as the St. Albert Minor Football Association celebrated its 55th anniversary.
“I’m blessed,” said Olexiuk with an overwhelming look of gratitude. “There are a lot of outstanding football coaches around this community that don’t have a field named after them. I have one and it’s a legacy that I will never forget.”
St. Albert City Council approved the naming of the artificial turf facility and change room amenities building in Olexiuk’s honour on Aug. 28 after SAMFA submitted the naming request.
“Without Larry you may not be in the stands and these players may not be playing here because Larry was the person who brought football to St. Albert,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse during the on-field formal announcement with rows of SAMFA players in the background and Olexiuk, his “bride” of 50 years, Colleen, son Brett, grandson Connor, 11, and granddaughter Brooklyn, 8, as the special guests.
“This is Larry’s 50th year of providing leadership in football and that requires a special thank you,” Crouse said.
Darryl Moroz, general manager of Bulldogs Football at Bellerose Composite High School, described Olexiuk as an individual with noble qualities “who reaches out and touches humanity in ways that leaves us inspired and gives us a feeling of wanting to do better and be better people.
“His unselfish demeanor and the values he teaches our athletes every day is something you can learn from,” Moroz said of the Bulldogs’ assistant coach who is idolized by past and present Bulldogs Nation players and the alumni of the legendary St. Albert Storm.
“It is a very special day to honour a true gentleman of our sport,” Moroz added. “He volunteers his most valuable commodity, his time.”
Olexiuk’s rock is his wife.
“Colleen is gracious and elegant as Larry is passionate and humble,” Moroz said. “Without Colleen in the background supporting Larry and allowing him to be Coach O to the rest of the world we would not be here today.
“There are two Coach Os that equally deserve recognition today.”
Olexiuk’s accomplishments, initiatives and success in football includes coaching the bantam St. Albert Palmer 49ers in the early years and playing a prominent role in the creation and initial funding of the St. Albert High School Football Association in 1986 so players could remain in St. Albert to play high school football instead of leaving the city in pursuit of the sport. There are now three high school football programs in St. Albert instead of the one senior team.
After the breakup of the Storm and the birth of Bulldogs Football, Olexiuk was a fixture in a variety of coaching capacities with the Bellerose teams that continues today for the 2017 Football Alberta Life Membership/Hall of Fame recipient.
Olexiuk, 70, reflected on the special day during a break from the outpouring of emotional congratulations, massive hugs and hearty handshakes from the overflow crowd of life-long supporters at Saturday’s ceremony.
Describe what it’s like to have this football facility named in your honour?
Olexiuk: “A lot of tears and memories I’ve shared with guys who’ve called me and texted me and emailed me, hundreds and hundreds of messages, and visits to my home by dozens of former players and some I haven’t seen for 30 years. It’s the most humbling experience I’ve ever had in my life.
“It truly is incredible. I have many people to thank for that, starting with Nolan Crouse, our mayor, and city council. His regimen for the last 10 or 12 years has been to name facilities after citizens who have contributed to the community rather than taking the money grab for the funding for the naming and without his pushing through council this naming I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
It must be very special to see so many individuals here for the ceremony, from the former players you coached to people like Bob Brayman, the first Storm head coach and your buddy while standing shoulder to shoulder together as coaches on the sideline for so many years, and he flew in from Kelowna today to attend this event.
Olexiuk: “It’s the whole memory thing. I look at these people and I say wow, I’ve got five memories with you, I’ve got 20 memories with you, 10 with you and we shared this and for you to come by and see me 30 or 40 years later to pay attention to the fact we have a naming after me and you took the time and the effort to come out today I treasure that time.”
What makes you still want to coach year after year after year?
Olexiuk: “It’s the boys that have kept me young. I get more from coaching the boys than I give to them. I really believe that. Yes, I try and teach them life skills and I think it’s important that we have coaches like that to pass those skills on to the boys in the community but in return I have lots of laughs. I treasure the moments I spend with these young guys because they’re enthusiastic, they’re young, they do stupid things that remind me of things that I did and it’s just nice to see the youth hasn’t changed in that regard.”
Can you sum up how football in St. Albert has grown from when you started coaching to now where we have this facility now known as Larry Olexiuk Field?
Olexiuk: “When I first moved to St. Albert almost 50 years ago this was a garbage dump and when we renovated our place in Grandin I dumped the wood and the gypsum rock and all those sort of things out of my station wagon about 100 yards away from here.
“When we first started coaching way back in the ’70s and in the ’60s in St. Albert we played on elementary school fields. There were no change rooms so kids changed outside on the field before practice and they changed on the field as they left the practice.
“We played home games on high school fields behind Paul Kane and behind St. Albert High on fields that were not very well maintained to be honest with you, if they were maintained at all. We got a room finally for a high school team, it was supplied by St. Albert High and it was a former janitor’s room, so the boys could have some change facilities.
“We got three high schools together at that point in time to form the St. Albert Storm.”
When did you start out in football?
Olexiuk: “I had a passion for football in high school. I played with Victoria Composite High School back in the ’60s. I graduated and I missed football so much that two years later in 1967 I asked my wife if is there any chance I could maybe help and assist with a bantam football team because they were looking for people to coach bantam football. That was the start in 1967. I started coaching quarterbacks, I was a quarterback myself, and just fell in love with the game, fell in love with what I was able to pass on to the boys and we went from there.”
What is your favourite part of coaching?
Olexiuk: “The boys. The relationships and watching the boys grow as a unit, grow as individuals, watching them literally change almost overnight with respect to some of the things like the patterns in life that they had been pursuing and then near the end of the season seeing them in a total different pattern and the joy they had from achieving and the camaraderie and the fun they had. That was my gift from them.”
The highlight of Minor Football Day in St. Albert on Saturday is the formal announcement of the renaming of the Riel Recreation Park artificial turf facility as Larry Olexiuk Field.
The ceremony starts at 11:45 a.m. with the opening address and introduction of special guests by St. Albert Minor Football Association president Micah Seon-King, the naming announcement by Mayor Nolan Crouse and few words from Olexiuk.
A group photo of all the 186 SAMFA players and 52 coaches/staff with Olexiuk and Crouse will also take place at field level.
Olexiuk will be joined by his wife Colleen at the event, which also serves as SAMFA’s 55th anniversary.
Several former players from the bantam St. Albert Palmer 49ers, St. Albert Storm and Bellerose Bulldogs and current members of the Bellerose junior and senior teams who have been influenced by Olexiuk as their coach will also be in attendance.
The day-long festivities include four games involving the SAMFA peewee and bantam teams.
Kickoff times are 10 a.m. (peewee junior varsity Colts versus Edmonton Seahawks) 12:30 p.m. (bantam junior varsity Fury versus Seahawks), 3 p.m. (bantam senior varsity Palmer 49ers versus Stony Plain Bombers) and 5:30 p.m. (peewee senior varsity Riders versus Stony Plain).
Darryl Moroz is the public address announcer during Super Saturday.
Last weekend, three of the four SAMFA teams make their regular season debuts. Scores were 57-0 for the 49ers against the Leduc Ticats, 21-0 for Sherwood Park Wolverines against the Fury and 33-0 for the Leduc Wildcats against the Riders. The Colts had the bye.
The namesake of Larry Olexiuk Field is in a state of shock.
“Can you believe it? I still don’t believe it,” said an astonished Olexiuk after St. Albert City Council approved the naming of the Riel Recreation Park artificial turf facility in his honour last week .
“It’s the most humbling episode I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse broke the news to the man called Coach O.
“He said, ‘Would you accept the naming?’ And of course I’m just all babbly. I’m like, ‘Wow! This is the most wonderful thing in the world,’” Olexiuk said of the phone call that left him in a state of shock. “I was floored.”
Afterwards, Olexiuk and his wife, Colleen, shed tears of joy and Saturday, during the couple’s 50th anniversary function hosted by family friends, Crouse spoke in person of the kudos bestowed upon one of the most beloved football figures in St. Albert.
“It was a bunch of tears there again,” Olexiuk said. “Again, it truly is humbling.”
The St. Albert Minor Football Association submitted the naming request in recognition of the strong supporter of St. Albert football for nearly 50 years and who, as a coach has made a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals involved in the sport.
City council is responsible for naming municipally owned buildings and significant infrastructure.
“If it wasn’t for Nolan pushing for those things it would’ve never happened,” Olexiuk said of Crouse, a longtime proponent of naming places, schools, streets, avenues and buildings after citizens who have made outstanding contributions to the community.
“That’s what I find numbing about the whole thing. It’s a legacy. Nobody could’ve imagined when I (started in football) 50 years ago it would result in the naming of a field.
“I’m humbled beyond belief. It’s like you’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession so to speak.”
A few of a very long list of Olexiuk’s achievements include coaching the bantam St. Albert Palmer 49ers, spearheading a financial drive to fund a high school football team in St. Albert, the legendary Storm, was a driving force in the creation of the St. Albert High School Football Association in 1986 so players could stay in St. Albert instead of leaving the city to play high school football, and after the breakup of the Storm, served in a variety of capacities with the Bellerose Bulldogs’ football program. The Bellerose senior team’s Outstanding Offensive Player Award is named in named his honour.
Olexiuk was also instrumental in organizing the popular 20th and 25th reunions of the Storm’s 1990 team that won the metro Edmonton league’s Carr conference and was the Tier I provincial finalist while going 10-1 overall. Plans are already in the works for the 30th anniversary shindig.
Olexiuk, 70, has been inundated with a barrage of congratulatory messages since the announcement was posted on the Bellerose football website.
“It has been a phenomenal response and all very heartwarming. Each and every one brings tears to your eyes. It brings that whole feeling of, ‘Wow, this really happened?’” said the 2017 recipient of the Football Alberta Life Membership/Hall of Fame Award.
Trevor Lovig, a Storm quarterback under Olexiuk’s guidance as the team’s offensive coordinator, was thrilled to see his former coach recognized.
“What a great honour for someone who has been a major builder of the community of St. Albert. He has coached, mentored and befriended literally thousands of young people through sport. Long after his many on-field accomplishments are forgotten, what will remain forever is the positive impact he made in so many, many lives. Naming this field after Larry is the perfect honour for he and Colleen,” said arguably the best high school quarterback to ever play in St. Albert.
Marc Kennedy, another noteworthy quarterback who was coached by Olexiuk on the Bulldogs, applauded the announcement.
“I’m proud of the city for honouring and recognizing a great man who has had such an impact on the young men of St. Albert. Coach O has put his heart and soul into football over so many years and he deserves this honour more than anyone,” said the Olympic gold-medal winning curler.
“I am forever grateful to Larry. His coaching has had a lasting impact on my life and is a huge reason for my success.
“This is a wonderful honour and tribute. I’m so thankful St. Albert has recognized him this way.”
Chad Hill, head coach of the senior Bulldogs, was delighted to see his former coach and member of the Bellerose coaching staff receive the accolades bestowed upon him.
“I’m very happy to hear that the football field in St. Albert will be named after Coach O. My brother (Ryan) brought forth his name so for months we have been patiently and not so patiently waiting to hear the city’s decision,” Hill said. “I cannot think of anyone in our city more deserving of this honour than Larry Olexiuk. He was instrumental in building high school football in our community and has five decades of coaching experience in St. Albert. He has won championships and coached all-star teams but athletes who played for Coach O remember him for his passion and commitment to making sure that each boy he coached learned life lessons and values to become a better man. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of men across our city, province and even country who credit Larry Olexiuk for helping them become the men they are today.
“I’ve had the great privilege to have played for Larry and to have coached with him. Every season he imparts wisdom on coaches and players. We will be truly honoured to play our home games at a venue in our coach’s name.”
The official unveiling of Larry Olexiuk Field is expected to take place before the Oct. 16 civic election.
“That will be the one that will blow me away,” Olexiuk said.
On Sunday, May 21 at the Football Alberta Bantam Bowl banquet our own Larry (Coach O) Olexiuk will be inducted into the Football Alberta Life Membership/Hall of Fame. Larry's accomplishments listed below in the Football Alberta press release speak for themselves, but his passion and genuine devotion to the Bulldogs Football program is second to none. We at Bulldogs Football are proud to have such a distinguished and true gentleman teaching our boys how to become men first, and football players second.
Please join us in congratulating Coach O!
Life Membership/Hall of Fame Award
Larry Olexiuk – St. Albert Minor and High School Football
Larry Olexiuk’s involvement in football stretches back to 1967 with his first year of coaching the offense with the Jasper Place Bantam Lions. A year later he became the head coach of the Palmer 49er’s Bantam team in St. Albert and began a close to 50 year love affair with football in that city. Over the years, Larry was instrumental in coaching at all levels of the game in St. Albert and also supported the Edmonton District Bantam Football Association as head coach of their all-star team in 1986 and 1987. His most important role in St. Albert was as the main driver for the creation and initial funding of the St. Albert High School Football Association in 1986. Prior to that players had to leave the city to play high school football. Since that time the high school situation has grown from one senior team to football at all three high schools in St. Albert. Thanks to Larry over 200 young men get to play high school football in their hometown each season. Very deserving of the Life Membership/Hall of Fame award.
Congratulations to Mr. Chad Hill, who was named the 2017 Coach of the year for Football in the Carr Division by the Metro Athletics staff. Chad was selected and voted upon by his peers within his respective division. This selection showcases his devotion to the game, as well as his commitment to an inclusive environment when interacting with players, fellow coaches, officials and fans.
Here are the steps to register your athlete with Bulldogs Football
**It is very important that a Parent/Guardian complete this procedure and NOT the athlete himself. Bulldogs Football requires that the Parent/Guardian of the player MUST electronically sign and complete this registration and nobody else on behalf of the athlete.**
Congratulations to these 3 Bulldogs Football players for being chosen as a Carr Division 1 All-Star. in 2016.
James Suranyi #68 Offensive Lineman
Cordel Callioux #2 Defensive Back
Chase LaRose #22 Defensive Back
James and Cordel will play another season for the Bulldogs in 2017 and Chase will graduate this June.
32 Athletes in each division have been selected as the top contributors in their respective positions.
The Top Quarterback, Top 3 Runningbacks, Top 6 Receivers, Top 6 Offensive Linemen, Top 5 Defensive Linemen, Top 5 Linebackers & Top 6 Defensive Backs have been selected by League Coaches to make up the All - Edmonton Football teams for all three of Metro's Sr. Football Divisions.
Click the link below to see a complete list of All-Stars!
Head Coach, Chad Hill - Bellerose Bulldogs
We are all very proud of of coaching staff and players and in fact our whole organization. I personally feel that we have the best group of volunteers in the entire area. Once in a while one of our group receives special recognition and although he is too humble to bring any attention to himself I feel we also want to applaud his recognition. This is an excerpt taken from the St. Albert Public Schools Division meeting agenda for Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
ST. ALBERT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BOARD OF TRUSTEES’ REGULAR PUBLIC BOARD MEETING
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION PRESENTATION - Recipient: Chad Hill, Teacher and Football Coach, Bellerose Composite High School
Even before Chad Hill joined the staff of St. Albert Public Schools, he was a familiar face in our high school locker rooms, as he put in many hours volunteering with both the Paul Kane High School and Bellerose Composite High School rugby clubs. It wasn’t long, then, before his talents were officially recognized and he was hired as a teacher, first at Sir George Simpson Junior High School in 2004, then moving on to Bellerose in 2008. At Bellerose, Chad has stepped into the role of football coach, in addition to teaching Try 10 and English. Recognizing that coaching goes far beyond calling plays, Chad truly focuses on providing a well-rounded experience for his players. “Chad is very concerned about his players being productive adults in the future,” says Bellerose Acting Principal Max Chorney. “He wants them to be model citizens and good young men down the road.”
Brayden Guy, who has coached with Chad, concurs. “He is well respected by all of his players and assistant coaches, and teaches them life lessons while being extremely relatable and approachable in the process,” he says. “He is a motivator and a player’s coach, because every single player that Chad coaches, or has coached in the past, wants to play for him.”
When it comes to leadership on the field, Chad takes it to a whole new level. “The great leader is a master in the arts of communication, purposeful action, self awareness and service,” says Lorne Akins Principal Graham Jackson, who worked with Chad at Bellerose previously. “Chad has consistently demonstrated such a clear dedication to these principles that he has become a pillar in our St Albert community, and has become a role model to many.”
“Chad is a perfectionist,” says Brayden. “He is competitive, and expects the best out of people, because he puts his best into everything that he does, every single day. There are few coaches who have mastered the concept of being incredibly knowledgeable, but at the same time an expert at teaching and conveying the knowledge in a way that can be understood by all. Chad is seamlessly masterful at being able to teach players how to excel on the field, and in life.”
Those who have ever coached students know that it is not a small commitment. “Chad is so dedicated, he spends countless hours on football during the season and beyond,” says Max. “He’s already getting ready for spring training now!”
“He has been willing to dedicate a great deal of time to the behind-the-scenes leadership, not interested in recognition but leading for change,” says Graham. “Simply put, Chad is a hard worker, a constant listener and a continuous innovator for his students, his athletes and his colleagues.”
Concludes Brayden, “He doesn’t do things to get recognized, he does things because he is passionate. That passion is not only for the sport of football, but perhaps more importantly for helping people. He loves seeing people reach their highest potential, and there is no one better at helping people reach and exceed that potential, than Chad Hill. He wants to be a winner, but more importantly he wants to see others win. He is most definitely a role model and an invaluable member of our district as he demonstrates every day that people should aspire to work hard, be passionate and strive to be great in everything that they do.” For his commitment to St. Albert Public Schools, the Board of Trustees presents a Certificate of Recognition to Chad Hill.
Brett Yost of the Bulldogs will play on Tuesday, January 17th 12 noon Alberta time in Dallas, Texas against a US All-Star Select U-16 Team. You should be able to watch this game online at this link.
The website for the competition is http://internationalbowl.com/competition
Let's cheer on Brett!
GO ALBERTA, GO CANADA!
Registration for the 2017 Spring/Fall Season will be available in April. Please go to the Registration Tab on the website and follow the instructions to get your athlete registered at that time.
If you have any questions you can contact me via email or phone/text.
Darryl Moroz - Bulldogs Football
Announcing the 2017 Bulldogs Football ALBERTA GROWN "SIDE OF BEEF" Raffles. We are selling raffle tickets on TWO (2), Sides of Beef. Tickets are $10 each and the draw will take place on October 20th, halftime at our Bulldogs Senior Night regular season final game at Riel Park. There will be 2 sets of tickets for a 'Side of Beef' each, and the winners also receive a 5 cu.ft chest freezer to store your Beef should you be a winner. Only 1000 tickets printed for each side of beef so your chances are very good that you could be the winner.
All Bulldogs families will have their tickets in Mid- August and we will sell them until they run out or up to half-time of the October 20th game.
For more information email: email@example.com