Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson working towards perfect season in youth football

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

They say that coaching is in your blood — an inescapable calling and a drive that can’t be satiated.

For Calgary Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson, the pandemic may have stopped him from coaching for a Grey Cup in 2020, but it hasn’t kept him off the field.

According to CTV Calgary’s Glenn Campbell, Dickenson’s desire to lead a team has him on the sideline as the head coach of the Calgary Wildcats Orange, a bantam team playing nine-on-nine football during the pandemic.

“It’s been fun. I mean, football is football and I enjoy it at every level,” Dickenson says.

“I enjoy coaching these kids. They’re very attentive. They’re a little more challenging to keep their attention but they’re sponges. They like to learn.”

The team is having remarkable success thus far, mirroring Dickenson’s early dominance as a CFL head coach. The Wildcats Orange are undefeated through three games and have outscored opponents a whopping 148-7. What else would you expect from a head coach who went to three consecutive Grey Cups in his first three years as a professional coach?

“It’s been a special experience for all of us coaches to be around a legend like Dave Dickenson. He’s going to go into the Hall of Fame one of these days,” fellow coach Greg Wilson says.

“He’s an extremely good motivator. The boys really enjoy being coached by him. I just watch for the little things that he does out there.”

One of the reasons why Dickenson jumped on board is because his son, Cooper, is the quarterback of the Wildcats Orange. It’s a special bonding experience between father and son, but Cooper is occasionally embarrassed by his dad.

“It’s kind of weird seeing him out of the house and once in a while he brings up weird things in the middle of the dinner table,” Cooper explains. “But I enjoy it. He’s doing pretty good and the team likes him.”

Dickenson has dialed down his fiery sideline demeanour for the youth games, but admits some habits die hard.

“I’m still competitive. I mean I’m trying not to yell at people,” he says.

“But I do find myself working the refs a little bit. Same result as the CFL, though. I don’t get enough calls. Maybe I need to adjust that a little bit.”

Whether they’re getting calls or not, bantam players for the Wildcats are certainly getting their money’s worth of coaching this season.