Smith reaching for the stars
Calem Smith, left, with his father, Troy Smith. SUBMITTED PHOTO.
Calem Smith is off to an impressive start to his young football career.
The 15-year-old, Grade 9 student had a strong rookie season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last fall where he led the junior team in touchdowns with nine from his running back position and also added a couple of interceptions on the other side of the ball at safety.
That showing helped lead to an invitation in February where he made the final roster for a U16 showcase game at the University of Ottawa played last weekend where he was one of 40 players from across the country and the lone Niagara resident to participate.
“Now we are now at top of list for next year for U18 for the CFL Showcase,” Smith said
Smith said he was more than happy with his performance, which included a pair of catches and a touchdown at wide receiver as well as his play at defensive back.
“It was intense, it was a lot,” Smith said. “Much greater teams, harder to run against, guard. Any position you play it’s just at a higher level. It’s a lot harder to comprehend things.
“As I was going in I was somewhat worried. I was thinking maybe these kids are going to be phenomenal and it’s going to be a shock but I have to say I held my own.”
Smith indicated he received interest from two club teams following the game as well as a offer to attend Football North, a football prep high school, in Mississauga.
“It’s a little hard not to brag but I’m not that type of person,” he said. “It was fun. It was amazing experience for sure.”
Smith, who said he is seriously contemplating attending Football North for Grade 10, has another big experience on deck in July when he will travel to New Brunswick with the Team Ontario U16 squad for a week-long tournament.
“The goal is to give you the closest thing to a college experience so you’re up early mornings, asleep by 10. It’s film, practice, lunch, stuff like that,” he said.
Smith participated last season playing a division up.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be on that team,” he said. “I was supposed to be on a younger team but I moved up a year and played with the bigger kids. That’s when it came to me I might be a higher level than (most) kids my age.”
Smith, whose preference is offence, has set the bar high for his future.
“My goal is to maybe go to the States or even get a good offer or scholarship in Canada,” he said. “I’d love to think one day I’m going to be in the big leagues and being able to go to these things like Team O and Team Canada really make you think it’s going to happen one day.”
Smith played soccer for a couple of years before switching to football around age eight.
“I think I saw a video when I was a kid and really loved how it looked and asked my mom if I could do it,” he said.
He was quick to thank dad Troy Smith and mother Rheanna Smith for their sacrifices.
“I wouldn’t be doing any of this without them, all the money they have spent just to allow me to play a sport,” he said.
He is keeping sharp this summer playing for the Niagara Spears.
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