Rod Kirby is being recognized by Football Alberta as one of three recipients for the Gary Hobson Volunteers of the Year Award for his contributions to minor football in Lloydminster. The former Head Coach of the Red Dogs worked with the Lloydminster Minor Football Association for many years and last year took the Red Dogs to the CDMFA Tier I Midget Championship, which they won with an undefeated record. He died unexpectedly shortly after the championship.
While he was alive he helped to grow and develop not only the program but the players within it, including quarterback Tommy Yanchuk. Kirby coached him for three years with the Red Dogs, and one year at high school.
Yanchuk describes his relationship with Kirby as one with a lot of trust, especially when the game was on the line but also one of support.
“He always had something good to say when you were down and he always knew what to say to make you feel better if you needed it. That was the biggest thing with Rod.”
Yanchuk adds that he helped players see their potential.
“He just always told me that no matter what you want to do in life, no matter what it is, no matter where you go, no matter who you face you can always do good, you can always do as good as you want to do; the limits are never going to be reached if you don’t push and you can always make it to your goal if you believe in yourself and the guys around you to help you get there.”
A sentiment Paul Amundrud, the current President of Lloydminster Minor Football agrees with.
“He always had the kids playing to their top potential and always gave everyone a fair shot, no matter what their skill or ability was. He made sure they all got on the field and they all had equal opportunity to do their best.”
As for Yanchuk, he is looking to start playing junior football with the Edmonton Huskies and then to hopefully go on to play at the college level. The decision to play further was something Yanchuk said he made on his own, with help from Kirby to realize his strengths.
“He made me realize I was a good player and I can push myself and I can push people around me to do great things and if I wanted to excel I had many opportunities and chances to.”
Yanchuk adds that if he could say something to Kirby now, he would thank his former coach.
“I would say thank you for all that you’ve done for me and for all the other teenage boys and young kids that are playing football in Lloyd and I miss you man.”