Airdrie duo makes Dickenson academy opportunity count
Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 10:28 am
A pair of local football players got an awesome experience over the past month, getting the opportunity to hone their skills at the ninth Dickenson Passing Academy.
Tristan David (TD) Ouellette and Reid Jensen of the Airdrie Northern Raiders were two players who were not originally going to go to the camp, but were sponsored by supporters of the month-long program. Camp administrator and coach Chris Glass said he felt like it would be in their benefit to take part.
“TD’s brother has been a fixture with the (George McDougall) Mustangs for a long time and I want to make sure he has all the opportunities he can. He’s a high level player,” Glass said. “Jensen is one of the best players in the rural area, so he has to be at a camp like this.
“He’s one of those kids I want to have as much exposure as possible.”
The camp, which specializes in skilled offensive positions (quarterback, running back and receivers) gives players between the ages of 12 and 17 the opportunity to compete with players at a similar talent level, learn from current Stampeders players and alumni and fine-tune their skills in preparation of the spring football season that is just around the corner.
For Jensen – who lives in Strathmore and plays nine-man football during the fall season – the camp wasn’t just a chance for him to improve as a player.It gave him a chance to showcase his talent and get noticed.
“The camp teaches you all the little things, which are more important than you think they are,” Jensen said. “(Working on the little things) is huge because natural talent will get you so far, but the techniques will help you so much more.
“I definitely wouldn’t have had this much coaching if it wasn’t for coach Glass and coach Dickenson. It’s a big opportunity because it will help my game so much.”
Jensen will be heading into his second season with the Raiders and is expected to take on an even bigger role with the team.
Due to coming from a large family, Jensen’s attendance at camp wasn’t really an option for the 15-year-old, but Glass and camp co-ordinator and Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson gave him the chance to take part and really make strides in his football career.
“We’re doing stuff that a lot of other camps are putting out there,” Dickenson said. “We spend a half an hour of video to go over technique, route running and details that I doubt they’re going to get at other camps or even with their local teams.
“(Jensen) is a new player for me, but there is potential for him to play at the next level. I think we can progress his game and make him even better.”
Like his older brother Jean-Simon, Ouellette had intentions of attending the camp this year after his brother had the previous two years, but due to the economy it was decided he was not going.
Once again, Dickenson and his team of sponsors, including Tony Spoletini (Spolumbo’s) and Greg Stahl (NewWest Trucking) stepped in to make sure another athlete was able to attend his annual camp.
“I take a lot of pride in seeing these kids get to university. It really is fun to see them develop,” Dickenson said. “I don’t feel like this is a cheap camp, but I also want kids to have an opportunity to better themselves.
“If you commit to me and give me your best, I’ll take care of you.”
In Ouellette’s case, this camp might have helped him decide which path he would like to follow as a player coming out of the bantam ranks. Now heading into his first season as a Raider, Ouellette got the opportunity to focus on a more specialized position for his midget and high school football career.
“I’ve learned a lot of things that I feel I’m going to use in my future seasons,” Ouellette said. “I’m pretty sure I’m a running-centric running back, but being able to catch a ball is always good.
“If I can get better at that, then I’m going to be a better running back. I feel like I’m a lot better after this camp.”