A longtime minor football volunteer was recognized for his contributions to the sport in the city during Saturday’s ceremony at Riel Recreation Park.
The St. Albert Minor Football Association renamed its spring camp in honour of Norm St. Arnaud for his years of dedicated service in various capacities on and off the field.
“I’m surprised, I’m honoured and I’m humbled,” said an overwhelmed St. Arnaud during the presentation ceremony at midfield before the start of the spring camp’s morning session for the bantam and peewee players.
“This isn’t about me, it’s about the kids and all the fun years my sons (David, Adam and Brennan) all had playing football, the fun that my wife Kathie and I had participating and all the friendships that we’ve made for our boys and for ourselves, lifelong friendships that will carry on.”
Darryl Moroz, the SAMFA midget director and the event’s master of ceremonies, painted a picture of St. Arnaud’s colourful past.
“Norm has put in thousands of volunteer hours with this organization over the past 18 years, all for the betterment of not only the youth but for the city of St. Albert and he is a true asset and a builder of our community,” Moroz said.
St. Arnaud, a high school quarterback at St. Joe’s who rose to prominence in the St. Albert flag football league, began earning his volunteer’s stripes as a parent helper in 1997.
“When David started he was in Grade 9 and I came out to watch and realized they didn’t have enough guys and I started holding bags and then it lead from that to assistant coach and then getting accreditations and becoming a head coach on both peewee and bantam, depending on which child I was coaching,” said St. Arnaud, a coach for more than 12 years. “The Xs and Os is what I liked about football.”
St. Arnaud continued on with the SAMFA executive as the equipment director after completing his coaching career and he also assisted the Capital District Minor Football Association with input on various directives and motions regarding the expansion of football within the capital district.
St. Arnaud also utilized his law background in a number of different issues regarding bylaws and player code of conduct.
“I was never the (SAMFA) president. I never put my hat in for that,” he said. “I was vice president of coaches sometimes and overseeing the discipline and aspects of that and I was on many, many committees and sub-committees with issues to deal with.”
St. Arnaud has fond memories of his stint as the equipment director.
“I remember putting helmets together in the family room. Kathie would be putting on the straps and the pads and I would be putting on other parts,” he said. “I can’t remember what year we started doing that but it was a lot of fun.”
SAMFA’s annual spring camp that kicks off the season was another highlight for St. Arnaud.
“This has always been a fun weekend for my family and myself,” he said. “With the equipment part of it you’re getting all the kids suited up (before the weekend) and then on the Saturday morning of the camp probably until noon the equipment manager will always spend most of that morning readjusting the equipment. Kids are coming in with their helmet too tight or there is no air in it or maybe it’s missing a piece, those kind of things.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories and laughs over the years dealing with that, particularly with helmets.”
And now every year the spotlight will shine bright on the Norm St. Arnaud Spring Camp and the individual it’s named after.
“I’m so shocked,” said the spry 64-year-old who was recruited to play on his son’s flag football team for a couple of games last year in the Edmonton men’s league.
“It’s recognition to me but it shouldn’t be me. It’s to all of SAMFA for what’s been accomplished over the years that we’ve been around and recognition as well to my wife for putting up with all the hours that we put in but also contributing all the hours that she’s contributed over the years as my manager of the teams that I was on and also with the equipment as well as designing jerseys that she did over the years and being the number one cheerleader for my sons who played and for myself and she never missing any event ever.
“I’ve had many great years with St. Albert minor football and it’s great to see it growing. It’s great to see this facility finally in place after all the years we had dealing with the city and everybody else to get the money and approval. We were always practicing over at other fields and to see this now and to finally have the clubhouse built which took so long is fantastic. I go back to 2001 when we started meeting with city hall and I was involved in that and I’m sure the board before that was involved too trying to get that going with suggestions and advising them what was necessary.
“But for myself it’s been all about making such good friends for us as a family, Kathie and I, and my sons have friends to this day that they started out as friends from playing football.”