The Kindersley Composite School’s once abundant player pipeline to the Kamloops Broncos recently opened back up. Seven Kobras suited up for at least one game out west from 2015-2019, and graduating player Declan Smit is set to join that list next season.
Declan Smit and his coaches knew he had potential the second he scored a touchdown as a grade 9 player in the Kobra’s provincial final game against Lumsden. The Kobras silver medal performance that year was forever ago now, with the team playing its most recent seasons as a 6-man program.
Kindersley moving to a small-town 6-man program after virtually always being 9-man did take some adjusting, but actually played to the strengths of a player like Smit. His recruiting profile shows him as a running-back/receiver who also has experience as a returner, and special teams in general including a booming boot as a punter.
Like many he was forced to miss out on all football activity this past year, leaving the above tape as the only reference for his playing ability.
“That’s from Grade 11 and I’m really confident in it because I thought I did good that year,” said Smit, “It definitely sucks I wasn’t able to get any Grade 12 film, you know when I’m at my best and have learned all these new things over the year. It’s definitely not as good as it could have been but I am still confident in it.”
Smit is listed at 6’0 tall and 190 lbs and informed the coach of his athletic nature. A first year player (especially at a skill position) should not expect playing time, but Smit’s mindset of getting stronger and faster off the field should translate well to his initial role on the team. He knows you can never be too strong, and that adding speed and agility will do nothing but help his versatile nature as a player.
Spring practices are currently on-going in Kindersley and are down to only 3 times a week thanks to a drop in numbers, providing more opportunity for Smit to hone in on his skills. He will gladly take the extra time on the practice field, though he detailed the idea of a spring football league that had kids sticking around.
“When we first started we had a good amount because there was news we could actually have a couple of games at the end of the year.”
Smit says after school administration squashed any chance of a spring league, many of the players main focus turned to baseball.
Perhaps a blessing in disguise for Smit, as he continues on with the extra training that is helping him gain the confidence needed to move to the next level. Former Kobras turned Broncos in Derek Walde and Casey Powell have spent some on-field time with the young player and helped him understand the world of junior football. He has these Kobra alumni along with his coaches to thank for inspiring him on the field, but off the field, he has one specific person to thank for getting him to make the ultimate decision to move on in football.
“I’ll give a special thanks to Angy (Mrs. Johnson) for everything she has put into us. I definitely wouldn't be going to Kamloops if it wasn’t for her.”
Mrs. Johnson wasn’t directly involved with coaching football, but as a mother to a CFL player in Kayden Johnson and her direct involvement with school sports, she was able to give Smit the motivation to move on with his athletic career. His path after high-school was set for either university, football, or both; but a conversation with Johnson helped put things into perspective for the graduating athlete.
“She gave me a whole thing about how you are only so young in your life, especially in football. She doesn’t want me to regret not playing, even just one extra year,” said Smit, “My other coach even said something along the lines of you can always come back and coach, but you can’t always come back and play.”
Though he enjoyed his football coaches sentiment, he said his decision really came because of Angy’s choice words. Smit provided even more admiration for his coaches and teammates that helped get him to this spot, and he also made sure to shout-out a local dealership for sponsoring his team fees.
Smit will be joined by another west central product in QB Clark Snider when their season begins.