Coaching on the NFL's field

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October 2, 2014 10:46 AM

Darren Pawsey currently coaches the Lloydminster Mustangs, but it will be the chance of a lifetime to coach in the home of the Dallas Cowboys in January, when he heads to Arlington with the Alberta U16 team. - Andrew Brethauer Photo

There have been some big name coaches that have been on the sidelines of AT&T Stadium. Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin have coached some of the biggest games in one of the National Football League’s most prestigious stadiums, and in January, one Lloydminster man can add his name to the list of coaches who have called orders from the sidelines, as Darren Pawsey will head to Arlington, Tex., along with the Alberta U16 football team for a single game against Team USA U16.

Pawsey has been a staple of the sidelines for many football teams in Lloydminster; he coached the Lloydminster Mustangs bantam team to a championship last season; he was an assistant with the Lloydminster Red Dogs, who were the Capital District Minor Football Association Tier 1 championship this past spring; he is a coach with the Lloydminster Barons high school team, and this past summer, he was the front man behind the Zone 7 Screaming Eagles football team that went to the Alberta Summer Games.

It’s an impressive resumé that also has included football coaching camps in the United States, and now Pawsey, along with the head coaches from the Zone 7 teams, will group together the best Alberta has and head to Arlington to play Team USA.

“It gives you some experience as a coach of an elite team from Alberta, but now we are talking international,” said Pawsey. “This is something that totally took me off guard.”

Pawsey will be the quarterback coach heading into the International Bowl series in Arlington. The team will mainly be made up of players from Calgary and Edmonton, due to the talent available, but at least two players from each zone will be selected as well, so Pawsey won’t be the only Lloydminster native heading to the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

First, however, there will need to be some quick training at home to get everything ready for the trip that happens at the end of January. The team is scheduled to hold two camps at Commonwealth Field house in Edmonton in December and early January before the flight to Texas.

It’s just another feather in the cap for one of Lloydminster’s premier football coaches, who wants to see how far he can take his coaching career, possibly to a level higher than where he is currently with bantam football and high school, or to something in the Prairie Junior League. And with some invaluable time with the best coaches from across Alberta, this trip to Arlington is going to be another boost to his already building coaching resumé.

“It’s going to be a great experience, for sure, to be a part of this staff,” said Pawsey. “There is only eight of us from across the province of Alberta. Most of the guys I’m coaching with are head coaches for the other zones, so there is going to be a lot of sharing of knowledge and systems.”

But there is already a glaring challenge for Team Alberta. The game in Texas is played with American rules, meaning four downs instead of three, a shorter field across and long, shorter end zones and only 11 players on the field.

Even with NFL rules, Pawsey doesn’t see it being a major issue with the team heading down, as some players have experience in the past with the American version of the game, so the transition should be rather painless.

More importantly to Pawsey, it’s about the kids playing the game, and he looks at this series as a chance for the Americans to see that there is some real talent in Alberta for football.

“I’m just looking forward to it,” said Pawsey. “I think it is going to be a lot of fun and I’m just absolutely thrilled these kids from all over the province of Alberta get to have a stage of this calibre to showcase their efforts and showcase their skills.

“I think the Americans are finally figuring out there is some talented athletes north of the border in all sports, not just hockey.”

All kids in the Team Alberta versus Team USA game are born in 1999, and will play on Jan. 31, 2015.

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