When the Naional team coach comes up to you after a trial match, puts his arm round your shoulder and congratulates you on your fine play, there’s a better than even chance you’ll be selected to the team. Canada’s National Team Coach Jim Delaney did exactly that to Comox Valley Kicker’s centre Connor Willis last month and just the other day Connor received word that he has been selected to the Canada U-17 team to tour England this Easter. Never in Doubt!
Willis is a fantastic rugby talent who has risen through the ranks of the Investors Group Comox Valley Kickers Juniors, the Lake Trail School XV, the Vanier School XV, the Vancouver Island Tsunami, the British Columbia and the Canada U-17 “B” squads to reach the pinnacle he has now attained. Willis has consistently been the star of any of the teams he has played for, scoring tries, defending assuredly and kicking points with his boot, and it is his awareness of space and his ability to read the field that makes Connor such a promising player for even higher honours in the future. To top it all he is an Honor Roll student as well as a very capable athlete which should see him win athletic scholarships down the road.
Last year when he was sixteen, Willis played for the Canada’s U-17 “B” domestic squad on a three-game tour around B.C., but this year won elevation to the Canada “A” squad that made a two-game Christmas tour to California during which Willis scored a try against the U.S. All- Americans in the team’s final game.
“It was an awesome trip and it just made me want to get onto this England Tour so badly” says the quiet spoken Willis. A few weeks ago he traveled down to Shawnigan Lake School where he captained the Vancouver Island team in beating the Canada “B” team 17-14, and it was after that fine performance that National Coach Delaney congratulated him so warmly.
In order to go on the tour Willis must come up with over $3,000 and in order to help him realize his Canadian dream the C.V. Kickers and the local High Schools have launched a “Penny Drive” to help raise the necessary funds. All rugby minded folk in the Valley are asked to empty their piggy banks and coin jars to help this fine young athlete make this trip.
Donations can be made to Colin Chappell at Central Builders Rentals or to any member of the Comox Valley Kickers. For further information or to have someone come and pick up donations: call 250-334-1882, or visit the Kickers Web Site at www.kickersrugby.ca.