When he was in Grade 4, Chase Pack got introduced to football.
He didn’t know much about the game or the positions, but a family friend suggested he should be a linebacker.
“I had zero clue what the position was or what it entailed,” Pack recalled.
“I went my first day of practice and I told my coach I want to play linebacker. Had zero clue what that was, since then, I’ve been playing linebacker for the past 10 years and never stopped.”
Pack is now graduating from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and will continue his football career in the fall.
He linked up with the University of Alberta Golden Bears football program last spring, before his senior season in Red Deer and as luck would have it, that turned out to be the school he chose.
“In the spring of 2020 when COVID started, I was planning on going to Team Alberta and play in the Canada Cup, that would have taken up my whole summer,” Pack said.
“With COVID happening, the Canada Cup got cancelled so I wasn’t able to go play for Team Alberta and because it got cancelled, I had the opportunity to go to the U of A elite summer camp. I got invited to that and about a week later I got a call from the coach and he was impressed with my performance at the camp and I got offered a scholarship.”
He was in talks with other schools before his commitment to U of A, including a few in Ontario but his heart always belonged to the Golden Bears. Pack even had a chance encounter with U of A head football coach Chris Morris a few years ago that set it all up.
“U of A has always been number one on my radar. They’re the school I’ve talked to the most and I’ve always been interested in them,” said Pack, who will study education and kinesiology.
“Coach Morris started talking to me in Grade 10 after my first round of Team Alberta tryouts… we ran into him at a steakhouse and we chatted there, he said he was impressed with my playing. I was shocked.”
The Red Deer product was also one of five winners of a $2,000 Football Alberta Scholarship, given to graduating Grade 12 students to assist with fees in their first year of post-secondary football.
Pack was selected from a large class of players that didn’t get to play their Grade 12 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’ll help a lot, university is expensive and there’s a lot of a commitment as student-athlete at a university so there’s not a lot of time to have a part-time job. The extra boost will really help,” he said.
“It was really cool to get recognized. Especially not having a senior season to get recognized. It was just good, especially with only five people in the whole province getting recognized.”
With the pandemic seemingly in the rearview mirror, Pack is looking forward to joining the Golden Bears in the fall.
“I’m excited for the faster pace of the game and the higher level of competition,” he said.
“But probably the biggest thing for me is, football has given me the opportunity to make lifelong friends… meeting guys who I’ll spend the next five years with almost every single day, just making relationships that are going to last a long time, I think that’s the biggest thing I’m excited for.”
He’s got a hard summer ahead of him, trying to get stronger and quicker so he can keep up with the pace of U Sports football. He knows it will be an adjustment, but one he’s looking forward to making.
“I’m just working on bigger and faster, that’s really been my goal every single year,” said Pack, who stands at six feet, 195-pounds.
“I just want to get my feet faster under me and also gain good weight as I go… I want to consistently get faster and get stronger as I go along. I want to go into camp well conditioned so I’m not lacking behind everybody. I want to make a good impression.”
Pack says over the next year, heading into his second campaign at U of A, he hopes to sit at a lean 215 pounds, which will help him compete with players who several years older.
The teen hopes he can bring a dynamic game with him to Edmonton and ultimately do whatever the team needs him to do to help them win.
“I play outside linebacker, so there’s a little more responsibility to that. I have to more so play the pass than a middle linebacker, I say one of my strengths is being able to cover the pass,” said Pack, who also explained he played a bit of defensive back in high school.
“The more I can bring as an athlete to the table, the better… I want to be able to help on all facets of the defence. That’s a really big part of what I want to do. Be a hybrid player.”
He will get that chance starting Sept. 25, when the Golden Bears open the U Sports Canada West football season against the University of British Columbia.