The B.C. Lions appeared jovial and playful at the end of practice in the Tournament Capital Centre gym on a rainy morning Tuesday.
Wednesday is the last day in Kamloops for the CFL team, capping off their third year holding training camp in the City.
And during their nearly three weeks here, they felt the fans’ love like never before, said the team’s star quarterback Travis Lulay.
“I think the fan fest this year was the best one we’ve had in terms of the amount of people coming out,” said Lulay, who's beginning his second full year as a starter.
The City even set up cameras at TCC to allow fans to catch the training camp action through a live webstream.
“It’s good to see that our fan base is farther reaching than we think about,” said Lulay. “To be three hours from home and still see we have support out here. It’s pretty cool.”
After all, he said, “we are the team of the province.”
It was a competitive training camp, said Lulay. The typical situation where athletes are “fighting for jobs.” And the contest is not quite over yet.
“We still have the one final preseason test in the second game coming up,” he said.
Twenty-year CFL veteran and nine-year Lions player Paul McCallum said the camp allowed the team to build a good foundation for the upcoming season.
“We still have some more things to go over in the next game. But I think we prepared as well as we could have and the team’s looking good, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
He warned that what happens at this time of year can’t really foretell the team’s upcoming successes.
“The preseason doesn’t really tell you much as far as wins and losses go, it’s not really important,” he said. “It’s more about evaluating players that you bring in and getting the club ready and the timing down and everything. So I think we’ve accomplished that.”
The weeks didn’t go by entirely without glitches. There was the unusually wet and cold weather.
McCallum was rundown on Tuesday from battling a chest infection and flu for four days.
A few injuries occurred on the offensive line during training, but nothing that won’t heal within a few weeks.
And a decision to switch catering this year didn’t work out, so team management returned to using TRU’s culinary services and dining in the cafeteria.
But by all accounts, the facility once again fit the bill for the team’s needs.
Lions president Dennis Skulsky has said the club, from the president down to the players, is impressed with the Tournament Capital’s offerings.
It’s unclear whether the Lions will return next year, but the team has an option for a fourth year in their agreement with the City of Kamloops.