BRANDON – Manitoba’s gridiron community is rallying around Brandon University’s football reunion.
The Crocus Plainsmen, Neelin Spartans and Vincent Massey Vikings will pay homage with Homecoming games on Friday, October 13 to officially kick off the weekend celebration.
Neelin will host the River East Kodiaks at 1:30 p.m., while Vincent Massey entertains Crocus at 3:30 p.m. in a clash of crosstown rivals. Both are Winnipeg High School Football League regular season games.
Vincent Massey is led by coach Mike Steeves, the son of BU Sports Wall of Famer Doug Steeves. Doug coached Bobcat football and served as Athletic Director. He later formed all three Brandon high school teams.
“Our family and football have a long history together and our Brandon roots start at BU. Football has always been in my life and some of my earliest memories are based around the Bobcat football team,” said Mike Steeves. “BU football laid the foundation for football in this community and began the growth of this wonderful sport in this region. Many players from those BU teams have helped grow the sport throughout Manitoba and Canada and football continues to flourish because of their efforts.”
The Spartans have a strong connection to this year’s Wall of Fame induction class with Peter Hagberg having coached the team following his days with the Bobcats.
Hagberg is a former BU football MVP and guided Neelin to an undefeated season in 1981, which included capturing the SouthWest Football League championship and a provincial title.
“We know this event will have a big impact on our community and our team is privileged to have a role in the reunion,” said Spartans’ coach Rob Cullen. “Mr. Hagberg was an impactful coach at Neelin and we are excited to honour his return to our community.”
The Rural Manitoba High School Football League will also be highlighted as part of BU’s football reunion. On Saturday, October 14, the Neepawa Tigers will take on the Swan Valley Tigers at 1:30 p.m. at Vincent Massey.
The RMFL game will follow Saturday’s Wall of Fame induction ceremony where former Neepawa coach and Bobcat star Lorne Lagimodiere will be also recognized.
Lagimodiere led the Tigers to seven championships over his 17 years at the helm of the program. In his final season, Neepawa won the league title with an undefeated record in 2003.
“An opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate an exceptional educator and football coach such as Lorne is an honour,” said Neepawa manager Dale Swanton. “Neepawa Area Collegiate has a storied football history in the RMFL thanks to Lorne’s contributions.”
There is an impressive list of former College Caps and Bobcats who coached at the grassroots level. Teaming up with the Winnipeg High School Football League and the Rural Manitoba High School Football League is an important step to bridge the gap.
“We really want to stress the fact that our football reunion is more than just a Brandon University celebration, this is an event that all of Manitoba can get behind,” said Athletic Director Russ Paddock. “The Caps and Bobcats football era was a great one in the province.”
“It is an honor for us to help celebrate this great sport with these football pioneers and legends,” added Steeves. “Without their efforts and sacrifices, football in this area would not have been as successful and numerous athletes would have missed out on the positive benefits of the sport.”
Over 200 football alumni have been invited to attend the reunion, which coincides with Homecoming 2017, which will take place from October 12-15, with events across the campus. For more details on Homecoming 2017 events, visit BrandonU.ca/Homecoming.