Following a season that saw the Sexsmith Sabres win at the Football Alberta provincial championship, James Watson was named the Tier IV Head Coach of the Year. The season was challenging, but Watson hopes that the small program can attract more players in the future.
“We lost a lot of players because of COVID. As a small school and program, our biggest challenge is the recruitment of players. I’m hoping we can use this provincial championship as a launching-off point to attract athletes to our team and our culture,” he says.
Watson says developing as a coach was a process for him, especially figuring out how to get the best out of his players on and off the field. What he does is preach the three c’s, commitment to self, commitment to the team, and commitment to the community.
“Making sure my players are ready to play the game, making sure they’ve done their training, and knowing the playbook. It’s important for them to be a positive teammate, supporting team members on and off the field,” he explains.
Watson says his experience as an athlete is one of the big reasons he got into coaching.
“I played a lot of sports growing up and I had a lot of positive experiences while playing team sports. Not just positive experiences as a teammate, but a lot of really good coaches as I grew up.”
Watson continued to play football after high school for the Edmonton Huskies. Even though he wasn’t the best player, he always appreciates the technique and lessons he took away from the game.
“Being a Phys-Ed teacher now, one of the things I love about sport is the technique, strategy, and structure that goes along with it. It’s also allowed me to appreciate all sports and not just football, which I preach to my students,” he says.
Sexsmith Secondary School has 544 students and about 30 teachers.