Ravens’ DE shines for Ontario, earns silver

Photos Courtesy of Julie Vanlare: 14-year-old Cottam native, Haden Vanlare, represents Team Ontario at the under-16 Canada East Challenge from July 5 to 12th. Haden would go on to earn silver, losing to defending champions, Quebec. 

by Garrett Fodor

A local youth is enjoying the fruits of his labour after several months of hard work and training. 

After watching his brother, Everett, play football at Essex District High School (EDHS) in 2015, Haden Vanlare was inspired and began to envision himself in a similar spot. The following summer of 2016, Vanlare decided to give up soccer, baseball, and lacrosse in order to try out for the Essex Ravens football team. 

  Fast forward three years, the 5”11 and 180 pound Cottam native continues to play for the Essex Ravens Junior Varsity Team, along with the EDHS Red Raiders. Most recently, the 14-year-old Vanlare represented Team Ontario at the 2019 Football Canada East Challenge, competing against teams from Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Haden’s Mom, Julie, said they heard about tryouts for the team through the Ontario Football Association. The process began March 2nd in London with other tryouts being held in Toronto and Ottawa. After a strong showing, the Defensive End was invited back for the final try-out on April 13 in Waterloo before being named to the 40-man team in May. Haden was the only member of the Ravens to make the team. 

The tournament ran from July 5th to 12th and was hosted at Queens University in Kingston. While there, Vanlare stayed in the dorms with his teammates, practicing twice a day, learning healthy eating habits, reviewing game tapes, and looking at playbooks. 

Working with seven university coaches and several teammates, Haden and Team Ontario advanced to the finals after defeating New Brunswick 33-31, where they played the defending champions, Quebec. Ontario, however, was unable to knock off Quebec as it fell 28 to 7. Vanlare and the rest of Ontario earned a silver medal, their second ever with the first coming in 2017. 

  Haden said he was proud to represent his country, and meet new teammates and coaches. If given the opportunity, he would do it again. He adds that he is looking forward to using the experience and bringing it onto the field with the Ravens and the Red Raiders. 

  Julie and Haden said they are grateful to the generosity of RedGrey Storage and SEF Fabricated Structures along the way. And they would like to thank Ravens Coach Glen Mills for helping Haden and creating a strong program in Essex County to grow athletes and the sport. 

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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