The Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) is elated to announce the expansion Quinte Skyhawks will begin play in the Ontario Conference in 2021.
The Skyhawks become the 18th team in the CJFL and sixth in the Ontario Conference.
“My goal and vision has always been to bring next level football to our region, being in a smaller market I wanted to give athletes opportunity to showcase the love they have for football,” says Skyhawks’ President Peter Gabriel. “Joining the CJFL was a natural progression giving athletes the opportunity to continue to play the sport they love after high school. For me it’s about creating opportunities for our youth. The CJFL provides for many athletes that think their football days are behind them, the opportunity to continue to live out their passion and dream of playing football at a higher level. Football is more than a game, it’s a life journey that mentors and guides young men preparing them for the next phase of their lives. That’s the CJFL factor!”
Players of the Skyhawks will not only come from Belleville, but the team plans to draw players and coaches from Kingston to Oshawa to Peterborough. This area of Ontario has an established flag football league, has strong high school programs and an extremely talented bantam league with nine teams in the Quinte Skyhawks Minor Football League.
“It’s a very exciting day for all of us in the CJFL,” says Commissioner Jim Pankovich. “With the cancellation of our 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a welcomed announcement. This shows the CJFL continues to head in the right direction and we believe Peter has the right people in place and the right plan to be a successful franchise for years to come.”
The Skyhawks will play out of Mary Ann Sills Park in Belleville, which is a field turf surface. It is a multi-use facility hosting the Ontario OFSAA Track and Field meet and the Junior Ultimate Frisbee Championships.
The club will have another major announcement on Wednesday, followed by the naming of the team’s first ever head coach on Friday.
Belleville Ontario is 188kms east of Toronto and 230kms west of Ottawa. The last census in 2016 counted 50,720 people living in the Belleville area which is home of the Bay of Quinte. Locals and visitors can enjoy world class wine and amazing farm to table restaurants.
Another strong region for the Skyhawks is Quinte West (formally known as Trenton) which has a population of 43,577 and is 25 minutes from Belleville. It is also the home of the National Air Force Museum of Canada.
Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
It’s our first #PickSixSaturday and what a way to kick it off!
Brant Morrow of the Saskatoon Hilltops intercepted a pass in the end zone on August 25, 2019 and returned it 113 yards in Regina against the Thunder. In doing so he set a new Prairie Conference record for longest interception for a touchdown in Conference history.
Watch this as we relive the moment …
The Saskatoon Hilltops have made history in the CJFL again, welcoming the first female athlete to a CJFL team. Emmarae Dale joins the six-time defending champions after an incredibly successful career with the Saskatoon Valkyries, helping the organization win the Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL) title in 2016 and 2019.
“I am extremely honoured to be joining the Hilltops,” said Emmarae Dale. “It’s definitely been very surreal so far and I still can’t even believe it’s really happening, but I’m so grateful or the opportunity to play football at a higher calibre and challenge myself as an athlete. It has been an awesome experience so far. I have received a lot of positive feedback and support which has really helped me keep my composure on the field. Coming from the Valkyries, things haven’t been all that different other than the obvious fact that I’m playing against men now. The pace is definitely quicker but I’m excited to keep learning and growing as a football player.”
“This is an incredible day for the CJFL,” says league Commissioner Jim Pankovich. "We have always pride ourselves allowing 18-22 year old athletes a chance to continue their football careers and to have Emmarae become the first female athlete, we couldn’t be more proud. She joins a storied franchise, who once again has found a way to make history for our league.”
“I have watched Emmarae grow into a dominant football player with the Saskatoon Valkyries,” commented Jeff Yausie, Defensive Coordinator for the Hilltops. “She has great quickness along with strength and athleticism. We are looking forward to her contributing to our Hilltops defense on the field. She has a great attitude, and no one works harder than her.”
The addition of Emmarae to the team marks the first time in CJFL history that a female athlete has been a member of a team’s roster.
“Emmarae is joining a long list of Dale family members who have been great players and leaders for the Saskatoon Hilltops,” said head coach Tom Sargeant. “She has a great work ethic and brings a very physical element to her play. She is joining us for our 2020 practice schedule, and we can’t wait to see her in the Hilltops uniform at linebacker in 2021!”
Coaches have kept sports alive in 2020. Has your kid's coach helped them through this crisis?Nominate them for a chance to win $2500!