The Eastman Raiders 28th season is over.
"It's always a bitter sweet time when we have our windup because it means that there's no more football for a couple of months," said Raiders club president Charli Champagne. "It was a good season. It was a busy season but I think everyone had a great time. Even though it wasn't the most winning season for some teams, they still came out of it with an awesome positive attitude that we see year after year."
The Pee Wee Raiders lost out to the Fort Garry Lions while the Atom Raiders were eliminated by the Charleswood Broncos in the Manitoba Minor Football Association quarterfinals.
Both Eastman Cruncher teams saw their seasons come to close on October 28th at Investors Group Field.
Champagne says the MMFA's decision to adopt Football Canada's age re-classification in 2018 allowed some of their players to bond with those team members that they played with the previous year.
"They really got to expand on what they learned the year before and the coaches got to continue coaching the same kids so we really got see that bonding and becoming a real football family."
Over 70 players signed up for the 2018 season including 20-plus for Crunchers, 20-plus for Atom and 30 for Pee Wee.
There was no Raiders Bantam team this past season.
"I think one of the big things is going to more of the rural towns," Champagne said when asked what needs to be done in order to improve on their registration numbers. "We had some discussions about hitting some of the towns that are a little farther south possibly. Maybe instilling a 1st Down Program in some of those smaller communities and not making them travel all the way to Steinbach and seeing what we can do from that aspect. That's all in the very, very infant stages of planning as we try to attract more talent into our community for football."
Champagne also confirmed that she will be stepping down as Raiders president in January but won't be too far away from a football field.
Her son Brody will be attending Steinbach Regional Secondary School next fall and will in all likelihood be playing JV football for the Sabres in 2019.
"I've been involved whether it was coaching, managing, being on the board - I've been through a variety of roles on the board and it's been a really huge part of my life. I was talking at the windup and reflecting on my past seven years and saying how I don't know what I'm going to do next year. I'm still going to be involved with the 1st Down Program with the 4-7 year olds."
"It's shown me a lot of the great spirit we have in this community, the way that the parents and kids can come together, the way that kids can become family," added Champagne. "Friends that have never known each other before get stronger on the football field and they leave that having this football family - where no matter where they go - they've got these friends that they have through football. It's been such a really amazing experience. I'm a little sad to see it go but at the same time it's opening myself up for newer opportunities within the community so that makes me excited as well."