BONNYVILLE – Bonnyville is going to be well represented when the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) hits the field next season.
Former Bonnyville Voyageurs Dominic Dumais, Mason Ward, and Tylor Moore were signed to teams in the CJFL teams, a national amateur football league that consists of 18 teams across Canada.
The Valley Huskers, based in Chilliwack, BC, will be welcoming Dumais and Moore, while Ward will be wearing the Edmonton Wildcats jersey.
Voyageurs coach Larry Godziuk described Moore, who primarily played on the offensive line but also was on the defensive line, as “a big athlete with lots of potential.”
“He’s tough and he isn’t afraid to work hard,” Godziuk continued. “He’s well-liked by his teammates and I’m proud that he chose to contribute to our program and wish him all the best with his new junior team.”
When Dumais signed with the Huskers, he said the opportunity was a privilege.
“Not many kids get to go this far and I’m just lucky to be one of those few who really take their talent somewhere else,” he told the Nouvelle.
After watching his cousin’s practice from the sidelines, Dumais knew he wanted to try football out himself.
“Just seeing these kids running around and actually being physical at such a young age, it kind of intrigued me and I wanted to try something new,” he recalled. “It kind of took convincing to my mom to actually let me play, but when I first strapped on my pads and helmet and took my first hit, I knew immediately that I wanted to keep playing.”
As the receiver moved up from Renegade to Bandit to Voyageur, he realized that he wanted to take his career as far as he could go.
“Just knowing the kind of opportunities that people get just by playing this sport, I wanted to see how far I could go with it,” he said, adding he knew it was going to be a difficult path.
“There were some people that always told me ‘no, not everyone gets to take their high school career further to a point like the CJFL or maybe to someplace like a university team in the states.’ But, I really tried my best and I wanted to see where this would mead me.”
Dumais believes signing with the Huskers will help him reach his dream of playing professionally, either for the CFL or NFL.
“If I’m playing in one of those leagues, I know that I’ve truly made it and I’ve made one of my dreams come true.”
One of the factors Dumais credits for getting him to this point are his former coaches, who allowed him to play and excel in the sport that he loves.
“At the end of the day, nothing is given to you. If you want something, you’ve got to work for it and that’s what I was always told, whether it was my mom or coaches, you’ve got to work for what you want, regardless of what it is.”
Although Ward didn’t always see eye to eye with his coaches, he credits one for stopping him from walking away from the sport completely.
“I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and… I thought I wasn’t getting a push I thought I deserved, but that was on me at the time. A lot of it had to do with insecurity and I didn’t want to waste my time on something that wasn’t going to work out,” he detailed.
A chance meeting with coach Robbie Cole made Ward realize the impact his decision would have.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone back.”
As he was planning on leaving town to move with his mom, Ward ran into Cole and the pair had a conversation about what the decision would mean to the football family in Bonnyville.
“It's not just about me, it's about the brothers. It's about the coaches, the family, the whole football family, and all the families and parents that put so much time into coming to watch us,” he explained. “I never took all that into perspective until he came and talked to me about it. I always think about that too, I’m so appreciative for him to come and do that.”
The right receiver fell in love with the game and grew up playing in Bonnyville. As he heads into his first season with the Wildcats, he knows the CJFL will be a new dynamic.
“When you’re in high school football, you’ve got the kids that are forced to be there and it’s not as competitive,” he noted. “For junior ball, everyone’s there to make it. Everyone’s there with a passion and everyone’s there with a purpose, laying it all on the field every game.”
As they head to the CJFL, Ward and Dumais offered some words of wisdom to other athletes looking to follow in their footsteps.
“If I was to give any advice, don’t give up,” Ward said. “You hear Nike and they say ‘just do it.’ It’s such a common quote, but it means a lot more when you take it into perspective. You’ve got to do it, put your mind to it, and eventually, things will work out for the best like it did for me.”
Dumais agreed, “Really work to get there, whether you’re taking your talents off-season and training in the gym or just simply going out on the field before and after practice to toss the ball back and forth or doing footwork, whatever it is. Always try and get better, always try and be better than other people ahead of you and just work for your goals and dreams.”