Lloydminster Comprehensive High School Barons coach Aaron Harper helped coach Team North, which featured Barons’ Garrett Musgrave, left, and Kyle Theiss, right, at the Football Alberta Senior Bowl this past weekend. Harper was awarded the Laurie Robertson Tier 2 Coach of the Year award at the Senior Bowl banquet. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The coaching staff of the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School (LCHS) Barons football team is determined to help children grow into responsible adults.
Aaron Harper, head coach of the Barons, said many of the players who enter their program have lives where they may not be held accountable for some of the choices they make or don’t have a level of responsibility that they must maintain.
He said they try to instill those characteristics into their players, so they have a sense of teamwork and accountability, even when the results aren’t going in their favour.
“It’s not just football,” said Harper. “It’s any sport you can learn those things. I think with our program we try to drive that home of be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there and do what you say you’re going to do and just be responsible people.”
Harper was presented with the High School Laurie Robertson Tier 2 Coach of the Year Award by Football Alberta for these efforts at the Senior Bowl banquet in Edmonton this past weekend.
Football Alberta stated that its provincial teams have come to rely on the prowess of Barons players since Harper took the helm of the team in 2014, and the future continues to look bright for the storied program.
It’s been almost 16 years since Harper first stepped onto the football field as an offensive/defensive lineman with the Barons. That 2002 season marked the rookie 10th grader’s foray into the sport.
The team did fairly well against local competition in those years, Harper noted, but they’d always lose against the stronger big city clubs at provincials due to the lack of a minor league program in Lloydminster. He said Larry Sauer, his coach in Grade 10 and 11, was and still is a great mentor who ultimately inspired him to pursue coaching.
Harper moved on to play football and study at Mount Allison University after graduating from LCHS in 2005. He coached football at the university level for a year following his playing career before moving back to Lloydminster in an attempt to find a job teaching and a football program to guide.
A door with LCHS and the Barons opened with the resignation of Justin Kelly from the football team’s head coaching duties following the 2013 season.
Harper jumped in with both feet as the club’s new head coach.
He said the work load as a history and phys-ed teacher at LCHS coupled with the duties needed to coach the high school football team is busy and it doesn’t just start and end with the season.
He said the Barons also have an off-season program, and run a three-to-four week spring camp and he helps coach the minor football midget team as well.
“It’s a lot of work,” he noted. “It’s a lot of hours. I’m lucky that I have a really great staff around me. The administration is really good here too and my wife has been really awesome and given me time to do all this stuff.”
The Barons advanced to three straight Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) North Tier 2 finals under Harper’s watch and made it to their first provincial championship in nearly two decades this past fall. The team fell to the Okotoks’ Foothills Composite High School Falcons in the ASAA final, but the consensus is they’ll be back for another try.
“As a coaching staff, we’ve put in a lot of work and we’ve improved this program to a point where we go around the Football Alberta banquet and guys are just saying how good your team is, how well they’re coached, and how good you’re supposed to be next year,” said Harper.
“I’m really proud of our coaching staff and all the work they’ve put in. I get to put my name on the award, but really I think our coaching staff is one of the best in the province.”