Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (Island Sports News)
July 7, 2013 Victoria, BC (ISN) – Many would say that any journey starts with one foot forward. For three Belmont High School football athletes that journey started many years ago on the gridiron with commitment, desire, and ambition to excel in a sport that is now quickly getting its island dues alongside the likes of rugby, soccer, and rowing.
Recently, twelve players of Belmont Bulldogs football team were invited to the first cut tryouts for Team BC held in Vancouver. 120 of BC’s top football players took to the field on the May long weekend to play for a spot in the second round of Team BC tryouts. Of those twelve players, three Bulldogs were selected to the second cut of the U18 56 man roster. Bulldogs OL/DL Tristen Forish, Slot/LB Matt Pastro, and RB/LB Sam Varao will now have their 2013 High school season evaluated with hopes to make the final 36-man roster to represent BC at the FBU International Games, held in San Antonio, Texas, January 2014.
Sam Varao, Tristan Forish, and Matt Pastro ( left to right ) of the Belmont Bulldogs football team made the first cut in selection for Team BC in May. The three hopefuls took some time out of their training schedule to pose for ISN – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
For Matt Pastro, at the ripe old age of sixteen, this experience is old hat. Pastro, already once selected U15 All-Canadian at the 2012 All American Youth Bowl, is hoping to crack the roster as an U18 player for Team BC and perhaps repeat as an All-Canadian player again. When asked about how he prepares for the upcoming season and the expectation to again reach the upper tier of BC football Pastro would comment, ” you have to go into every thinking you are going to win”. Always concerned about injury that cold dash his ambition during the season, Pastro is relying on his pre-season conditioning to keep himself healthy. “Right now we’re training every day five days a week. Working three days of weight training and two days of running”.
Matt Pastro take the hand off in the backfield from his QB during exhibition action recently at Westhills Stadium – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Both Forish and Varao have an armful of high school accolades themselves. Most notable for the 6’2″, 255 lb. Forish was a Rookie of the Year honor with the Westshore Warriors, 2009 Defensive MVP with the Victoria Spartans, and a 2012 Double “A” High School Southern Conference Offensive All-star nod. Understanding what it takes to be a successful athlete, the humble and open-minded. Playing both Offensive and Defensive Lineman positions, Forish knows what he needs to do to earn a spot on the BC roster. Taking away valuable experience from the tryouts, Forish would concede when asked about any weakness, ” I need to work on my hand and foot speed the most.”
Belmont’s offensive lineman, Tristen Forish, dispatches a Spectrum Thunder counterpart during Belmont’s Football Jamboree held recently – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Running Back Varao, having played local ball for the Warriors, Spartans and his high school Bulldogs, he too brings a resume to the field that most coaches would love to have in a player, including Bantam Offensive player of the year, Grade 11 Athlete of the Year, and 2102 Southern Conference Offensive Team All-star. As with his two teammates, Varao feels the bar is set higher this season. Varao, going into his senior year, is confident his head coach, Kevin Harrington, will expect greater things on the field this year from Varao. When asked why making the BC team is important to him and his teammates, Varao woul d comment, ” ……to get experience, get looked at by schools, and hopefully go as far as I can go”.
Sam Varao, seen here against Ballenas high school last year, breaks a tackle to carry for additional yards – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
For most people, the summer season is the time to relax and take time away from school and work. For Pastro, Forish and Varao their summer schedule is full of preparation for the all important upcoming season. Their drive to achieve the next tier in their football aspirations will take them to Seattle for a football jamboree early July and a NFA (National Football Academies) elite training camp to sharpen their skills.
With the stakes riding high for these three dedicated athletes, it can only spell good news for the Belmont Bulldog football team’s up and coming season. It would appear many Bulldog players will hit the field running once the 2013 season begins.
Good luck boys and your Bulldogs team!