There is perhaps nothing better for a fledgling athletic program to enjoy the benefit of an influx of excited young talent. For the Bishop Carter Gators football team, the likes of grade 9 lineman Ryan Depatie certainly fits the bill.
A graduate of St Charles Elementary Catholic School in Rayside-Balfour, Depatie has limited his sporting involvement in his youth to hockey, a pastime he has enjoyed since the age of four. Despite having no background on the gridiron, joining up with the football crew at BAC seemed only natural to the well-spoken teenager.
“I’m a big boy and big boys play football,” Depatie said with a smile. “I was mainly used on offense, but defense was one of the things that was most fun.”
“It’s a lot nicer when you get a little bit of a run on the line.” In just their second year in the SDSSAA league, the Gators opened the 2012 campaign with a highly competitive 15-0 loss to the Confederation Chargers.
But with injuries taking a toll on a lineup already strained for numbers, the balance of the season proved challenging. Thankfully, a core of talent steadfastly attended practice sessions, never losing the positive attitude that coaches of all sports appreciate.
“You still get to learn more with each and every practice,” Depatie explained. “It’s still fun to hit people in practice and you get better at what you do.”
In fact, despite not cracking the win column, Depatie looks back on the season without regrets. “I met lots of people and got to learn how to play a sport,” he said.
“It gets you a lot more involved in the high school. It’s much nicer than just coming to school every day, sitting down and doing your work and then going home,” he stated philosophically.
Depatie was among a fairly sizeable group of young players, athletes in grade 9 and 10 who were getting their first taste of high school competition. Thankfully, there were role models to follow.
“The seniors were very professional with us,” Depatie noted. “(Dylan) Ricciuto taught me how to block. They were always nice to us. They always accepted me, even if I was younger.”
Though he found himself working on both the offensive and defensive line, outside of the glamour, Depatie never once felt unappreciated.
“Everybody is important on the team,” he said. “You can’t do the job without a runner, you can’t do the job without a lineman. Everybody is equally important.”