Rode

Red Deer football player heading to UBC

Growing up, Kaden Schiller was involved in every sport he could play from basketball to hockey to volleyball, but in Grade 8 he made a decision which would change his life

He decided to try football and it’s been all up hill from then on.

“I played everything until my friend’s dad, who was a coach, said because of my size I should try out for football so I went out for the Notre Dame Cougars bantam team,” explained the six-foot, 260-pound Schiller, who earlier this year committed to play centre next season with the UBC Thunderbirds.

Kaden feels he started football a little late, but is glad to have played a number of sports.

“I really believe they all help in some way to make the transition into football easier,” said the 18-year-old.

In the bantam program Kaden was still growing, but was still one of the bigger kids and played on both the offensive and defensive lines.

“It was great experience, just getting a chance to learn more than one position,” he said. “It certainly helps me in that I understand what the defensive linemen are trying to do.”

Once he moved into high school, he played on the offensive line.

“I started at tackle my first year then moved to centre and guard,” he said. “I think it helped me in that I had to learn all the positions on the line which helps me understand my teammates and their responsibilities.”

He enjoys centre, which is considered the captain of the offensive line, and will play the position at UBC. He likes the fact he’s the leader.

“I believe one of my strengths is my leadership and ability to read the field,” he said. “I like being the leader (of the line) and using my vocals to help my teammates. I thrive in that role.”

He’s also comfortable snapping the ball in all situations.

“I don’t long snap on special teams but I can snap on extra points and in the shotgun.”

He’s also comfortable pass blocking or in the run game.

“But I do feel I’m best pass blocking,” he added.

Schiller knows little about who he’ll be up against at the centre position at UBC, but isn’t worried about it.

“I’ve looked at their roster and they have a younger team with a lot of first and second year players and players coming in like myself,” he said.

Kaden has never had the chance to play for Team Alberta and missed the Senior Bowl this year because of the pandemic.

Yet he did enough over the last couple of seasons to get his name out to university coaches.

“Last spring before the lock down I participated in a prospects challenge in Vancouver plus I played in the University of Alberta Golden Elite 80 program, That helped get my name out there a lot,” he said. “As well I played with the Prairie Fire (midget program) in the Calgary league which also helped a lot.”

The Elite 80 program saw the top players in the province train each weekend from August to November.

“We were to train from Friday to Sunday five times but the final session was cancelled because of Covid,” explained Schiller. “But it was a great experience and helped me a lot.”

Looking back Kaden gives Cougars coaches Gino Castellan and Ian Rattan a lot of credit in his development.

“Coach Castellan showed me how to work hard and what to expect at the next level,” he said. “In fact both of them played a huge role in me reaching the next level.”

Competing at the university level was something Schiller had thought about for several years.

“I always loved sports and wanted to compete at the next level,” he said. “Once I got into football I loved it and knew that was the sport I had the best chance to move on.”

But first he hopes his high school career isn’t over.

“There’s talk of running our league in the spring,” he said. “Hopefully that takes place as it would be great to get the competition before going to UBC.”

As of now Kaden has been working with a trainer at 360 Fitness.

“Not that I need to get bigger, but build muscle mass and get stronger so I can hang with the big guys. I’m working with a lot of weights and will get into more cardio down the road.”

UBC will run a spring camp in May before opening their season in late August.

“Hopefully everything is open by then,” said Schiller. “The main thing is for everyone to be safe and go from there.”

The next level is pro football.

“Talking with the UBC head coach (Blake Nill) and he said it’s always the end goal to have that mind set … to strive to play pro ball. Hopefully I can if I’m lucky.”

Looking at how far Kaden has progressed over the past four years there’s a good chance he’ll at least get a shot at the CFL.

Danny Rode is a retired former Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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