How it all began… (by former Calgary Stampeder Greg Peterson)

“As a kid, I grew up an avid Calgary Stampeder football fan. Frank Andruski played for the Stampeders during this time. Frank was my favorite player. Frank was a member of the church our family attended, played basketball on a team that my Dad coached, lived just down the street from my family, and he and his family were close friends of my family.

In 1972, tackle football forĀ  youth did not start until the Bantam age (Grade 9). There was a flag football league available for youth younger than Bantam age, and I played 3 years of flag football while in grade 4, 5 and 6. After grade 6, youth could no longer play flag football. I wanted to continue to play football but there was no organized Bantam team in the newer Calgary south east community of Lake Bonavista. After some calls and inquiries by several parents (including my parents) as to how the southeast communities of Lake Bonavista, Willow Park and Maple Ridge could start up a new team in the Calgary Bantam Football Association, word got around that we could have a team if we had enough players and a coach. At this time, I was too young to play Bantam because I was only in grade 6, but my older brother, Brent, was going into grade 9. My parents were talking to Brent and his grade 9 friends about whether they had an interest in playing tackle football if a team started up in South East Calgary. Brent spoke with many of his friends and many of them wanted to play. I remember listening to Brent and his group of friends talk about how they should ask Frank Andruski to be the coach of this new team. I was the “scrawny bothersome little brother” hanging around, just wanting to play football.

My brother and his friends left the house and started heading over to Frank Andruski’s house to ask him to coach. I followed behind or “tagged along” as Brent’s little brother. When Brent and his friends got to Frank Andruski’s house, they started debating who should knock on Frank’s door and ask him to coach. They were all too scared to ask him. Mr. Andruski was the neighbourhood celebrity at this time because he was on the Stampeders. My brother and his friends pressured me to do it. I was a little scared as I walked up to Frank’s door and rang the door bell. Frank answered, and I told him we were starting a new tackle football team and we wanted him to be our coach. He told me if I could go get a list of names of kids who wanted to play, he would think about it. Later, I learned he was just trying to get rid of me.

I left Mr. Andruski’s door step and went into the alley and was pounced on by Brent and his friends, asking me what Mr. Andruski said. I told them what he said and that we needed to go get as many names as possible to show Mr. Andruski we really wanted to have a team. The next week I went around the Lake Bonavista neighbourhood knocking on doors, telling people about our new football team and asking people at the door whether anyone lived there that would like to play football. I don’t remember how many names I collected but I know it was a lot. I even think some people that signed my list were adults who just wanted to get rid of me.

After collecting my list and combining the lists with that of my brother and his friends (which wasn’t any where near what I had collected) we went back to Mr. Andruski’s house to show him the lists. Again, my brother and his friends debated who should go to Mr. Andruski’s door and again, they all pressured me, so I went. I remember, I was scared, but I remember exactly what I said. I rang the door bell, Mr. Andruski answered, I showed him my list and I said, “Lets get this team started!!”.

The rest is history. Frank Andruski was our first coach, I got to play football that year as the only grade 7 on the team. I played 3 years for the Colts and we won the City Championship in every year. I have such fond memories of the Colts. I remember when we named the team the Colts. My years as a Cowley and Keith Colt are great memories and gave me a great start to my football career. I feel proud to be part of the group that initiated the Colt program, along with many others such as Keith Kendall, Frank Andruski, Ron Rooke, Doug Rooke, Bruce Shaw, Dave Cowley and many others.

Greg Peterson