At its most fundamental level, football is a bunch of sizeable humans trying to knock each other over.
The gridiron is no place for the weary, and 17-year-old Sage King has excelled at the sport to which he has devoted half his life.
King has gone where no other Salmon Arm minor football player has gone before.
The 6’2”, 220-pound defensive end is knocking on the door of the U18 B.C. provincial football team.
He is one of 54 players total to make the latest round of cuts for a spot on the U18 provincial roster.
“It has been a long road just to get as far as I have. I think I’ve done exceptionally well so far,” says King.
King’s journey for a spot on the U18 roster started in February, at the football combine in Kelowna.
Each region in the province hosted a combine of their own to determine the fitness level of each athlete.
Across B.C., approximately 1,000 hopefuls ages 16 and 17 showed off their abilities in the regional combines.
“This is where the coaches and scouts weed out a bulk of the players,” notes King. Athletes were selected based on their results in tests including the 40-yard-dash, broad jump, medicine ball toss and shuttle run.
Despite his large frame, King notched one of the fastest times in the region in the 40-yard-dash, and placed third in the province in his broad jump.
As a standout in the regional combine, King was selected, along with 102 other players, to attend the Team B.C. U18 May Long Weekend Camp, which was held in Richmond.
Over the duration of the intensive three-day camp, the players spent 13 hours on the field working on technical fundamentals and strategic drills.
“Even though it was only May, it still got really hot really fast in the gear,” says King laughing.
The practices would wrap up around 9:30 p.m. and players would end the day with a bone-chilling ice bath, as King described it.
The ice bath helped to reduce swelling, combat the small tears in muscle fibres and ease soreness.
On the second evening, the camp hosted a recruiters night, which saw scouts and coaches from the nations top university football programs, including the University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Waterloo and Queen’s University.
“There was definitely a lot of hands to shake. It was a great night to get your name out there; the scouts were genuinely interested in getting to know you.”
While King is the first player from Salmon Arm to make it this deep into cuts, he has remained humble, and is quick to thank everyone who has had a hand in helping him on and off the field.
“There have been so many people that have been so great to me; it’s been a real community effort.”
Topping King’s list of people to thank are his brother Dylan Leveille, dad Adrian Brooks and past coaches Jordan Grieve, Andrew Van Dokkumburg and Rob Neid.
“Sage is a tremendous athlete. He took my athlete fitness class last school year and trains really hard in everything he does,” says Neid. “His hard work has got him this far and should earn him a spot on the team.”
King says if it weren’t for his brother, he wouldn’t be playing football, as he followed in his footsteps.
The two brothers train together five days a week in the gym and on the field.
“I’m happy to have a part in Sage’s success. I hope he takes it as far as he can, playing at the highest level he can as long as he still loves the game,” says Leveille.
There will be another practice scheduled in August and a final practice in December before the final round of cuts.
Those that make the roster will travel with the team to Auburn, Wash. to play in the Tanoa Bowl Classic, featuring all-star teams from Washington and Hawaii.
“Making it this far – I have surpassed what I thought I could do. I am grateful but not satisfied,” says King. “I don’t want to give myself false hope and think that I have already made it, so I just have to keep working at it.”
Although football is important to King, he also highly values his education.
His goal is to score a full-ride scholarship to play football and pursue a career in computer engineering.
“I’ve always been a fan of video games and tinkering with computers – it’s something I am very passionate about.”
He says making the U18 team would be a vital step in accomplishing his goal as it gives him more exposure to university scouts.
“I know what I have to do to accomplish what I want; it’s just a matter of putting in the effort.”