Heavy hearts followed the death of much-adored teenager Jadon Robinson of Yarmouth following a car accident in November 2015. This photo was taken when Jadon was selected to play on a provincial under-18 football team at the Football Canada Cup in Montreal in July 2015. </p>
©Photo courtesy of Marla Robinson-Pyne
YARMOUTH – When Jadon Robinson was a Grade 3 student at Arcadia Consolidated School, he laced up for the school hockey team. He would shuffle from one end of the ice to the other. There were no long hockey strides. His were baby steps on the ice.
While he continued to play the sport, admittedly, he says, hockey was not really his thing. So it’s not surprising that baseball took over as his favourite sport to play.
But given his size – he says he’s 6’4” and 340 lbs. – some around him, in particular his brother-in-law Chris Pyne, wondered if the teen should pursue another sport.
Football, it seemed, might be a natural fit.
It turns out it was.
“I was in love with it as soon as I stepped on the field,” Jadon says.
And the sport seems to love him back. Last year – his first year playing football – he was a member of the Nova Scotia provincial under-17 team. He played at the Spalding Cup in Montreal and was named to the all-star team.
This summer, as part of the provincial under-18 team, Jadon – who turns 17 in September – will compete at the Football Canada Cup in Quebec July 13-19. This event is considered the highest amateur national tournament in Canada for high school football players. The 2015 tournament will feature a field of eight provincial teams from Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and two teams from host Quebec.
Since Yarmouth doesn’t have football teams, this past school year Jadon attended Sir John A Macdonald High School in Tantallon (outside Halifax) where he played Division 1 football. His positions included right guard and left guard offensive line and sometimes defensive tackle.
Asked what it is about football that gave him an instant connection to – and love of – the sport, Jadon says, “It’s a really physical sport, that’s the main thing I like about it. And the teamwork is big. You work as a unit.
“And just the atmosphere was great. I just felt welcomed with open arms and that helps a lot when you’re with guys you don’t know, but they act like they’ve known you for 10 years,” he adds. “You’re just one family.”
Jadon’s Sir John A coach Steve Majury says players will take a few paths to football. There are those who have played it since they were young kids and stuck with it through junior high and into high school. And there are those who are late entrants to the sport, only coming to it in high school, like Jadon.
“He’s been able to pick up the sport extremely quickly,” Majury says. “He’s made for it. He’s a big, strong, very quick athlete. Given his size, he’s built for football, and his mentality is being a very competitive individual, which I really like about him on the football field.”
Plus the teenager is very coachable.
“He’s a very personable young man. He’s intelligent and he just really listens well to coaches as we teach technique and have him really work on specific things,” Majury says.
That Jadon is going to be competing at the Canada Cup given his short time in the sport also speaks volumes, says Majury.
This isn't to say Jadon doesn’t have room for improvement, he says. Conditioning, cardio and strength training are all things he still needs to work on, Majury says, saying Jadon’s only limitation at this point is himself.
“From a potential standpoint, you just look at the shear size and athleticism, those are things you can’t really teach and he’s got those attributes,” he says. “So he can go as far as he wants to with football. If he pushes himself the sky’s the limit for him.”
As for how far he’d like to go, Jadon – who will enter Grade 12 in the fall – says he’s not sure. He’s still contemplating his future beyond high school, but is leaving all doors open. Meanwhile, Jadon has special admiration for his brother-in-law, who married Jadon’s sister Marla Robinson and who steered him in the direction of football.
“He’s just really done a lot for me as a kid. He took me under his wing at a young age. I really appreciate what he’s done for me,” he says.
As for the upcoming Canada Cup, Jadon says, “I think it’s going to be a good time. We have a good shot. We’ve got a lot of good guys and we’ve been working really hard these past few months preparing for it.”