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Canadian Football Profits From Copper Hills

Aug 04, 2016 04:01PM ● By Greg James

The Okanangan Sun compete in the Canadian Junior Football League and have signed Copper Hills graduate Nate Anderson. – Okanangan Sun

By Greg James | [email protected]

West Jordan, Utah - Canada made a call to Nate Anderson, a recent Copper Hills graduate, and he has decided to answer that call.

“I was not getting recruited at all in the states really, so the only option that I really had was to try out at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada,” Anderson said. “I tried out there at the end of April. They really wanted me on the team but had a bunch of good players at my position. They told me to go play junior football. I really did not know what that meant, and a few days later I got a call from the Okanangan Sun.” 

The Sun operates in the Canadian Junior Football League, which formed in 1974. It is a national amateur league consisting of 19 teams in 6 provinces across Canada. The teams compete annually for the league championship in the Canadian Bowl.

Anderson led the Grizzlies in receiving in 2015 with 390 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also led the team in all-purpose yards with 510 yards.

“The Sun called me up and said they really wanted me to play for them,” Anderson said. “They also explained what this league was all about.” 

The CJFL provides the opportunity for young men ages 17–22 to participate in highly competitive post-high school football. It works the same way as a collegiate redshirt year in the United States. The league operates much the same way junior hockey leagues do in Canada.

A handful of players are drafted into the Canadian Football League directly from the CJFL, while others are able to continue playing football at Universities. It is a way to develop players.

“I do not get paid,” Anderson said. “I am finding a full-time job while I live with a host family. I met them when I first showed up at the house. The team helps arrange the housing and sets me up with a roommate too.” 

The Sun finished last season with a 10-0 record. They lost in the championship game 38-24 to the Saskatoon Hilltops. Anderson hopes to contribute this season for the Sun.

“It really depends on how I do this season,” he said. “Manitoba would like me to try out again next season. If I play a lot and do well, I might get a chance. University is definitely my goal, so I can get an education first, but I might get a chance to continue playing. My education is first though.” 

Canadian football is played with different rules. There are only have three offensive downs, and the offense can move before the ball is snapped. The field is also 110 yards from goal line to goal line instead of 100 yards in the United States.

“It has been a fun experience to learn to play the game different than how it was when I grew up,” Anderson said. “It is fun to get out of the country and live on my own. The training I went through at Copper Hills has helped me prepare to get here. I did not know anyone here. I think there is only one other American on the team, and he is from Florida.”

The Sun’s first game was July 23 (after press deadline.) They are part of the British Columbia Conference. Their home field is in Kelowna, British Columbia, 300 miles north of Seattle. All of the Sun’s home games are available live streaming on

“We bow to no one (a Copper Hills High School motivational saying) has taught me not to ever give up,” he said. “It taught me to get back up when I have been knocked down and try to find another way.” 

He was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and still has family living in Calgary and Vancouver. He moved with his family to West Jordan when he was 5 years old.