It may be difficult to notice at first glance, but the Laurier football team has an unofficial mascot, proudly attending nearly every game to support them with a high degree of enthusiasm.
His name is Darian Cameron, eight-year-old son of Dwayne Cameron, the Special Teams Coordinator for the Laurier Golden Hawks.
Darian’s sideline spirit stands by the players, cheering them on as he is always fully engaged in the grid-iron battle at hand.
And it just so happens that this little guy is a football coach in the making, just like his father. He is already a passionate football player in his league and is determined to play professionally, starting out with college football and eventually coaching in the NCAA.
“It’s pretty fun, most of my friend’s think it’s a great experience and it really is and now we’re going to the Yates Cup,” Darian said.
He gives pep-talks, helps with drills and gets to do what he thoroughly enjoys – talking football. The advice he gets from players helps him in his own development as a football player, Darian explained.
Godfrey Onyeka, defensive back for the Golden Hawks, is a good buddy of Darian’s and has developed a special relationship with him as they play the same position in football.
He has taken particular note of Darian’s contributions to the team.
“Darian is very knowledgeable about football and about people at a young age, which is pretty rare. So, when he’s talking to you, you know he knows what he’s talking about … he’s a very intelligent kid so you take him a lot more seriously. And he’s so adorable, you can’t not,” Onyeka said.
For coach Cameron, nothing gives him more enjoyment than being a dad and to incorporate that into his career is a win-win situation for him.
The family values he brings to the team also does something profound for the players. Onyeka explained that it’s a driving factor for why they’ve been able to be so successful.
“When he always brings his family around us, he treats us like family and we feel like we can be ourselves around him and the rest of our coaches … Having their family around makes them more relatable,” Onyeka said.
Darian has essentially become the team’s little brother.
For the players, they’ve gained a friend and a respected member of the team.
For Darian, he gets to be the youngest member of the Golden Hawks and day-by-day, he learns what it’ll take to be a great coach himself one day.
“Many teams say this, but our team genuinely is a family and we’re very accepting,” Onyeka said. “He just fits in with us.”
It seems we’ll see a high level of dedication from Darian as he pursues his football career, with all the experience he’s gained from his role with the Golden Hawks.
“They’re pretty much like my best friends at school [sic],” Darian said. “And they’re like my family.”
One thing is for sure, Darian will be cheering loudly this weekend.