There is quite a range when you check birth certificates of players on the Central Alberta Buccaneers football team.
In fact, you could go to almost any team in the Alberta Football League and find a similar demographic.
Players new to the game, some who have been there a few years and others with more stories and injuries than they care to count.
The dynamic is such that you’ll find players just fresh out of high school and others who are close enough to have kids at an age where they could be playing high school ball right now.
Veteran Jason Patrick is back for a second season with the Bucs and he looks forward to another summer of senior football in the Alberta Football League.
“I just love the game,” said the 43-year-old who was one of the founding members of the Calgary Gators back in the 80s. “I like hanging out with the guys and I’ve been playing it since the mid 80s so this would be 30 years now.”
The other side of the coin is 19-year-old Elliott Mabbitt who joined the team this year after only two years of football experience.
“I played in high school and I loved it and I was just sitting around in school (Red Deer College) this year and I got bored,” explained the native of Halkirk about why he joined the Bucs.
He had a friend on the team who was urging him to give it a shot and he relented but doesn’t regret the decision.
Patrick, who has played about every position in the game except cornerback, says he can share his years of experience with younger players like Mabbitt.
“It’s good to see them want to continue on playing. They’re a little cocky at times so sometimes they need to be taught a little bit of a lesson. But you know most of the kids are willing to listen and learn.”
After a hard night of practice Mabbitt admits he’s a little out of shape and should work harder. Patrick says the game is still fun but the aches, pains and getting all taped up to play are reminders of wars from the past.
“Well that part is no fun anymore, trying to get into your shoulder pads (which are 24 years old) and getting taped up, the Absorbine Junior and all that,” he said. “The fun part is when you step onto the grass and the contact.”
Both players agree the camaraderie shared by the players is what is really attractive about playing a full contact sport like football.
Mabbitt says he’s looking forward to going up against men this football season as opposed to high school players.
“It’ll be an experience that’s for sure and I hope I can come out on top in at least a few battles.”
For Patrick, the future with the Bucs is almost a week to week decision with work and family obligations biting into each day but he’s enjoying his time on the field with his teammates and hopes to continue as long as his body will allow him to.
“I’ve talked to the coaching staff and if this works out then great. If not then I’ll maybe come out and hold a clipboard and see if I can help out. One way or another I want to be involved with the team.”
The Bucs open the season against the Calgary Wolfpack June 7th at ME Global Athletic Park in Lacombe.