September 13, 2018 3:17 pm

Southern Alberta football coach leading next generation

A football coach in southern Alberta is passing down a team-first approach he's learned through his experience in sport and policing. Matt Battochio reports.

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Coaldale Football coach Pete Christos is still in awe of the company he’s joined after being inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

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“There’s coaches that have been coaching for 65 years, pretty much created the game of basketball. And you listen to their story and you’re like ‘wow,’” Christos said. “I was just a young guy playing a game. We worked well in a moment 30 years ago.”

Christos captured two consecutive national titles with the Calgary Colts football team in 1989-1990 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June. He will also be recognized on Saturday at the Calgary Colts team along with his former teammates for their achievements.

For Christos though, the relationships forged on and off the field are more important than the hardware.

“It’s a nice accomplishment, but I valued the guys,” Christos said. “You go back 30 years and you see these guys and you’re like ‘man, how are you?’ And you connect with them and you can catch up. The funny thing is, it’s exactly where you left off.”

These days Christos is coaching the Coaldale Spartans, which is comprised of a group of players from eight to 13 years old.

“When you’ve got younger kids you can’t be barking all the time you’ve got to be mentoring and be patient,” Christos said.

In addition to commanding football sidelines, Christos also patrols Lethbridge and area as a police officer in the Lethbridge Police Service.

One might think Christos is a no nonsense coach from his line of work, but he’s found the right approach working with young kids.

“It’s not that he’s intense. It’s just to the point where it’s good. It’s good for everything,” Spartans running back Jaxson Nielsen.

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His partner on the sidelines also sees the right demeanor in Christos.

“Maybe in other roles he’s a little bit more stern, but on this field he’s a great guy,” Spartans assistant coach Blair Takahashi said.

But according to at least one player, who is asked to call Christos ‘Coach, not Dad’, the Spartans leader, isn’t always Mr. Nice Guy.

“Well, what else am I going to call him?” joked Christos’ son Marcus. “He can get mad if you mess up. He’s hard on me because he knows I can do it… But it’s fun.

“I like it because I’m not as nervous when I know he’s on the field. If I mess up I know he’s always there for me.”

Christos has put in countless volunteer hours with the Spartans team, helping bring in new equipment and sponsorships.

He’s also fostered a team first motto: “All in. All the time.”

“We’re a team together,” Marcus said. “You’re not just one person. You think you’re the best, we’re all the same. We’re all a team. All in, all the time.”

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