It’s pretty evident students at Harry Ainlay are taking an ABC approach to the 106th Grey Cup this Sunday. That’s ABC as in Anybody But Calgary.
In the trophy case at Ainlay is the Rick Campbell leadership award that goes to the Titan who shows the most leadership capabilities, named after arguably one of the most accomplished student athletes in school history.
Campbell will be patrolling the sidelines wearing the headset for the Ottawa Redblacks, the only coach that team has ever had.
And cheering in the stands will be members of this year’s Harry Ainlay Titans, who’ll be fresh from Saturday’s provincial final in Fort McMurray, after facing the St. Francis Browns of Calgary.
Even though the Titans have tickets courtesy of Len Rhodes and the Edmonton Eskimos, allegiances to the western rep end there.
“We’re pretty excited about that and it’ll be another great way to show our support for him and the Redblacks,” said coach Brock Ralph.
Ralph worked with Campbell during two stints in his CFL playing career with the Eskimos and the Blue Bombers.
Campbell during those periods was an assistant on those staffs handling defence and special teams.
Playing under Campbell, Ralph saw what went into becoming a successful coach, and at Ainlay he suggested the school create a new leadership award. “I know the qualities that make up Rick and to me, I’ve always really respected so many things about him. He cares about people, he’s passionate about the game. He’s just a stand-up guy.”
“No job [is] too big or too small for Rick.
“He’s just a guy who’s always been humble with his worth ethic. He’s a leader because he shows people and players a ton of respect as a coach. That’s what stood out to me, just the respect he had for people even before the football piece.”
Campbell played in the late ’80s under then-coach, Bryan Anderson. The former city councillor is fond of one story — when the Titans lost both their quarterbacks, he turned to Campbell in his Grade 12 year to quickly learn the position because he was considered the leader of the team.
Nothing formal is being planned at Harry Ainlay to mark Campbell’s return to the city. Ralph suspects the team will send the alumnus a “good luck message” and don’t be surprised if something similar comes from Campbell.
As for similar plays in the playbook, Ralph said, “He’s a coach I learned a lot from and I liked his style. So I would hope that some of the things we do here reflect his values and maybe some of the Xs and Os.”