NOTE: At the time of this Zoom video interview, Cole Avery and the Kamloops Broncos were preparing for their originally scheduled season opener in Kelowna on Aug. 28. That game was postponed.
The season opener may have been delayed, but preparation for the return to play for the Kamloops Broncos of the British Columbia Football Conference is now just a week away.
Among those anxious to hit the field is Cochrane's Cole Avery, who's entering his fifth and final season of junior football. He's just turned 23 and football continued to be a large part of his life after high school.
"It feels good," says Avery. "Missing last year kind of bummed me a bit, and getting back, seeing all the guys, and putting on the pads really means a lot this year. It's definitely been a fun start so far."
The Broncos have had a tough couple of seasons, but Avery likes what he has seen in practice. He says the team is fired up and has recruited some young talent, including a quarterback from the UofC Dinos.
"Everyone's excited that this year is going to be different for us. The last few years have been shakey. Everyone's ready to step up, and I think we're going to have a good season, get a few wins, and make a run for the playoffs."
Avery was scouted by the Broncos at the Senior Bowl in his final year of high school football in 2016.
"The Broncos approached me and asked me if I'd come to training camp that spring. I decided to give it a go and made the team. I've been there ever since. I just love it out here. It's a great team to play for, and you can't ask for much more."
His first appearance was memorable. He got a pick and a couple of tackles in a Bronco wins.
Previous to this, he was a member of the Cochrane Cobras team that kicked off a record-breaking six consecutive championship run in Alberta Tier 3 high school football. He wears two championship rings.
Like many Cochrane youth, he started his football in the Lions minor football program. He was part of the first bantam team to beat the Calgary Cowboys, then win their first provincial championship.
"Then jumping up to high school playing for the Cobras, being coached by Rob McNab and Bruce O'Neil, those guys are great football coaches, really prepared me for the next level and even life after football."
He considers himself lucky to be able to continue in the sport after high school.
"Not many guys get to do that, but I'm one of the lucky few, and it has been a great few years."
The Broncos open against the Chilliwack Huskers on Sept. 11. Avery says the Huskers are among their top rivals in the league and is expected a hard-fought battle.
Besides football, Avery is working on his carpentry apprenticeship and is a pilot.
His dad, Jeff Avery, is fire inspector for Cochrane Fire Services and is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame for his part in the back-to-back national junior championships won by the Calgary Colts in 1989 and 1990. Way back when, he also played minor football with the Bearspaw Lions.
The Zoom video of this interview is attached and shares a few more details.