Three EDSS football players looking to spend the summer playing for Waterloo rep team

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Junior Elmira District Secondary School football players Colby Van Bargan, Jake Gingrich and DJ Campbell are hoping to play for the Waterloo Predators this summer to prepare for high school football in the fall. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

Motivated by their selection into the junior varsity all-star game last year, three junior football players from Elmira District Secondary School are ready to put in work over the summer.

DJ Campbell, Jake Gingrich and Colby Van Bargan are all in the middle of tryouts for the Waterloo Predators rep team. The team’s season starts next month.

They are three of the five junior football players from EDSS who were selected to play in the junior varsity all star game in December last year at the University of Waterloo.

High school football coaches from across the Waterloo Regional District School Board recommended some of their players to participate in the game, which acts as an opportunity for young football players to gain some valuable football experience.

Once they were selected they had three practices in a week before the game and then they were “drafted” to one of the two teams, which was done via Twitter. They learned 10 new plays which they worked on over the three practices.

“It was a good learning experience because a lot of the coaches, they played for higher divisions so we got to learn stuff we didn’t learn. They did teach us some different stuff, different styles than what we already know,” Campbell said.

Now these three are hoping to make the rep team to continue improving their football skills this summer ahead of the high school football season in the fall.

The players explain how they felt when they found out they’d be playing in the game last fall.

“I felt pretty surprised because last year I didn’t play much, but this year I started playing more and I improved a lot more,” said Grade 10 student Gingrich.

Campbell – also in Grade 10 – found out through a text.

“I was in my room and then when I found out I jumped out of bed and ran to my parents and showed them. It’s a big deal to me,” Campbell said.

This was Van Bargan’s first year of high school football as a Grade 9 student.

“I was pretty happy because all year I was trying to put in my best, so I was happy to get into the all-star game,” Van Bargan said.

The three of them all have different positions, which means they won’t be competing for the same spot on the team.

To prepare for high school football they’re hoping to gain experience this summer with the Predators, as well as hit the gym as much as possible.

“It’ll pretty much be the Preds season, a little bit of a break, then school football right away,” Gingrich said.

None of them grew up as huge football fans, but came to love the sport in their teenage years. Van Bargan says his dad always encouraged him to try new sports, and found he enjoyed football as a linebacker.

Gingrich, a kicker, was first introduced to it by watching NFL games on TV.

“I didn’t know anything about it before. Once I started watching it I started to know what a first down was, what a kick off was and plays. That’s when I got into it. I tried out in Grade 9 and that’s how I started,” Gingrich said.

Campbell also tried out in Grade 9 and has been playing ever since, recently moving from defense to offense.

“[Jake and I] just knew that we wanted to play football in high school because we didn’t have it in our school. So as soon as we got to high school that’s the first thing we did was try out for football,” Campbell said.