Rick Campbell, head coach with the Ottawa RedBlacks. FILE PHOTO
After over 30 years of coaching high school football, one player in particular sticks out for Edmonton city councillor Bryan Anderson — the Ottawa RedBlacks’ head coach, Rick Campbell.
“Rick was no superstar but he was technically excellent at any position we asked him to play,” said Anderson, recalling the days in the late 1980s when he coached Campbell during his tenure with the Harry Ainlay Titans in southwest Edmonton.
“He played slot back, wide receiver, tail back, and even defensive halfback because he was also able to think the game well from a defensive standpoint as well as from an offensive standpoint.”
Anderson recalls a situation during Campbell’s Grade 12 year when both of the Titans’ starting quarterbacks left the team, and there was only one player left the coaching staff could turn to, and it was Campbell.
“I called Rick in and explained him the situation, and all he said was ‘let’s get started.’ This is the kind of leadership he had,” said Anderson.
In fact, it’s moments like that led to the Harry Ainlay Titans to introduce the Rick Campbell Leadership award.
“Our coaching staff felt that acknowledging a player who exemplifies the core values of what it means to be a leader was as important as recognizing our most outstanding players,” said Harry Ainlay Titans football assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Tyler Greenslade.
“In conversation with long-time Harry Ainlay coach Bryan Anderson Rick’s name came up ... Bryan thought that Rick’s willingness to do whatever was required of him as a player and his general character as a leader set him apart from some of the other names.”
The first recipient of the Rick Campbell Leadership award will be announced at the Harry Ainlay football banquet on Monday, Nov. 30.
But when it comes down to Sunday's Grey Cup game between Campbell's RedBlacks and Edmonton's Eskimos, Anderson says he'd rather see the Eskimos win, but he wouldn't be entirely upset if they didn't.
“If the Eskimos win, hooray, I love them,” said Anderson. “But if they lose, I get a consolation prize.”
Meanwhile, the Titans themselves are all-in with the home team.
"Head coach Brock Ralph is a former Eskimo and Adarius Bowman has spent time in the past coaching the Harry Ainlay Titans football team so I think I can speak for our group when I say we are Eskimos all the way," said Greenslade.
The 103rd Grey Cup goes live Sunday, Nov. 29 from Investor’s Group Field in Winnipeg, MB.