Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
The VI Raiders won the BC Conference Cullen Cup in 2017 and it was their defence that seemed to lead the charge. That defence was led by All-Canadian and fifth year linebacker Dexter Shea, named to the CJFL Class of 2017.
Last season alone he made 29 tackles, had six assists, and had a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
He helped the Raiders win the BC Conference title and earn a berth in the National Semi-Final game, which was held in Saskatoon.
Why did you play with the Raiders in the first place? – “It was my hometown team with a legacy and winning tradition so it seemed seamless to me. Not to mention I loved the bad boy reputation the Raiders carried. Coming from Barsby (high school) I was excited to join another football team that knew how to work and grind.”
Why did you stay with the Raiders for all five years? – “The friendships I made and the desire to continue building a culture. Being a five year Raider meant something to me as well. Not a lot of guys stay with a program for that long.”
Now that you’ve graduated from the CJFL, what’s the biggest lesson you take away? – “It’s tough to put that into perspective, what did I learn from an 18 year old to a 22 year old? Countless lessons. More specifically the different types of leadership styles, and what it takes to be a leader. Commitment and sacrifice, and giving back; we had and continue to have an amazing group of alumni coaches keeping this program’s tradition alive.”
Each player goes through a lot during his CJFL career, how did you grow as a person? – “The same statement applies from the lessons I've learned. Growing into a man over my five years of junior came with trials and triumphs. Laughs and tears were had but I wouldn't change much. There is no better thing than having teammates by your side in battles on the field and through your life and coaches who make you not only a better football player but a better person. The support and cheer of families, not just your born one but the one you choose by playing as a Raider, gives you tremendous amounts of love. So it's safe to say I've grown a lot since arriving as an 18 year old.”
What’s your favourite moment of playing for the Raiders? - "My first and fifth year will hold a lot of memories. I spent much of my fifth year reflecting back, drawing comparisons and dynamic changes to my rookie year. Winning the Cullen Cup both years are hard to beat. Each of those seasons I made bonds that carried through my years, and will continue to carry on in my years. It's impossible to pick one moment above the many incredible moments shared and experienced."
Knowing what you know now, would you change anything? - "I wouldn't change anything because I'm exactly where I am today because of everything that's happened. As for things I'd tell myself as a young guy? It's the little things that count, take your time and enjoy every moment whether it seems right or wrong, work, and take care of your body!"
What will you miss most? - "I’ll miss the team aspects and main camp. Main camp is one of best times of the year. You're fresh and excited, new guys coming in, seeing returning guys for the first time in a while. Eat, sleep, football and that's it. Love is in the air around then. It's hard to be a part of something quite like football, such a large group and so many parties involved behind the scenes. Practices, games, events, dinners, and all the get togethers will be hard to replace."
What’s next for Dexter Shea? - "Travel the world and continue to grow and learn as much as I can about myself and this world. Maybe I even sprinkle in some coaching because once a Raider, always a Raider. Boy would it be fun to sit on that side of the experience."
VI Raiders’ linebacker Dexter Shea is part of the CJFL Class of 2017.