Kings County teen preparing for first Team Canada game in Florida

Published on January 27, 2017

The five Nova Scotians representing Team Canada arrive in Florida. Matthew Mendez, left, from Citadel High, will play for the Under-19 team, while Under-18 members include Riley Gabriel from Cobequid Education Centre, Adam Bennett from Sir John A, Connor Ross from Central Kings and Lourenz Bowers from Dartmouth High.


ORLANDO, FLORIDA - A Coldbrook teenager’s football dreams are coming true.

Connor Ross, 17, was named to Team Canada this fall, and on Jan. 28, will compete in his first game, representing his country in a North American championship football game against the United States.

Ross has spent the past week in training in Orlando, Florida with the other members of the national Under-18 team as they prepare for the International Bowl Series. It’s involved training daily, with three-hour practices, says Ross, who has come up the ranks of football locally with the Valley Bulldogs organization, as well as playing for the provincial team and for his high school team.

“The difference in training (with Team Canada) is not much, besides the longer practices and meetings. Because the week is so short of time, working out would not help,” he says.

That’s where all his prep work here in Nova Scotia has paid off, he adds.

“All the training I have done before this trip is all the training (available),” Ross said.

“My skills will grow because I'm putting them up to the greatest players in Canada and if they’re not working well enough the coaching staff will help me improve what I am doing.” 

Connor Ross, #7, dodges NKEC players as he carries the ball up the field for CK.

©Jennifer Vardy Little

One of five Nova Scotians to be named to Team Canada, Ross feels lucky to have the opportunity.

“This experience is amazing for me,” he said. “Moving forward, it will help me because I'm competing against the 40 best players in the nation. Because of this, it increases my competitive edge, which moving forward is a great thing to have.”  

That’s the key point of the program, head coach Steve Sumarah said in a press release. Canada is planning to use the annual series of games against USA Football to continue to grow its national team program as they prepare to defend their 2016 IFAF U19 World Championship gold medal in 2018.

“Over the next two years, we plan on keeping a core group of players together and involved in the national team program. This is more than a one-and-done type of game in Orlando; it’s a multi-year event which will be used as a stepping stone to help identify and help prepare Canada’s junior national team for the world championships and includes an off-season strength and conditioning program as well.”

Aside from feeling lucky to be enjoying the Florida sunshine while his friends at home are weathering the cold, meeting new people was a highlight of the week.

His high school, Central Kings, has been very accommodating of his trip, he said.

“I am missing exams, I’m just going to write them when I get back home,” said the Grade 12 student.

Ross’s family was travelling to Florida to watch his big game, which will be broadcast via live stream on the Team Canada website. The day before his Team Canada debut, Ross says he’s excited – and a little apprehensive.

“I’m very, very nervous, but ready, because this group of guys are next level so I believe we will be able to pull it together.”