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Da Bears are on the prowl in North Kitsap
NORTH END — Intense, hard-hitting and “full of class” just about sums up Kitsap’s newest sports team.
The Kitsap County Bears are a semi-pro football team that seeps with local ties.
They’re owned, managed and quarterbacked by 1993 North Kitsap High School graduate Don Purser. They’re mentored by North Kitsap High School teacher and three-season coach Dave Snyder.
About 19 members of the lineup are former NKHS football players and the remaining 21 positions are fleshed out with CK grads or military men.
Basically the Bears are the guy next door, the local business owner or employee or the kind guy who holds the door open, which is exactly who they’re supposed to be.
“We like that because we’re trying to create a close-knit group of guys, kind of like a brotherhood type of thing,” Snyder said.
It’s a season of firsts for Purser, Snyder and the 40-man team, but the enthusiastic rookies couldn’t have asked for a better group to belong to.
Their secret weapon: team unity and respect.
“I’ve been on a lot of teams where a lot of the players don’t respect each other or the coaches and there’s none of that here,” Purser said. “Even when we lose were still a bunch of happy guys. We’re positive because no matter what happens it’s easier to be successful when you’re positive.”
Although the theory of positivity hasn’t paid off so well in terms of the scoreboard — they’ve lost three of their four games by double digits and won one — it sure is noticeable from the stands.
On Saturday at Silverdale Stadium in a home contest against the East King County Blackshirts, the Bears got trampled 45-15, but from the smiles and laughter seen and heard on the sidelines one would have guessed differently.
The Bears were joking with each other, and tossing playful punches and knocks to the helmet.
Even as the clock was winding down and the Blackshirts polished its lead with another touchdown, the Bears’ spirits didn’t damper, as “That’s the best series we’ve had all night, boys. We got a sack,” was hollered out from the sidelines.
The sack belonged to No. 9 Nick Laurion.
“We want to play the game with respect and dignity and if we win we win,” Snyder said. “We’re just about staying together as a team and enjoying the opportunity we have to play. We look at it as a privilege to be able to play.”
Likewise, the approximately 75 fans enjoyed a Saturday summer filled with a little tackle action.
“It’s good to have a local team and to be able to come out and watch people that you know who have potential,” said Central Kitsap graduate Will Ostag who now resides in Chico. “They’re all really good guys and it’s really fun to watch them lay it down on the field.”
Locals watching locals is one of the primary reasons Purser formed the Bears, and why Snyder got involved.
It gives the community an opportunity to watch their high school favorites, and it gives the players who weren’t able to attend college a chance to get noticed and perhaps extend their football careers.
Purser said the Bears are a “stepping stone” and a good time for guys who want to keep on playing.
“We want to make this a chance to play afterward (high school),” said Purser who knew he couldn’t make it to the pros so he set his sights on semi-pro. “If they want to go onto college it gives them a chance to play with other adults and to get film so they can get somewhere else.”
Although the season and the Bears are in their infancy, the word has gotten out. Purser said when they started only 23 joined the team. They’re now up to 40 — the total number of jerseys the Bears have — and within the past week a handful of athletes signed up. Purser said there’s always room for more and envisions a 60-man roster in the coming years.
The plan is to keep the Bears on the prowl. However, Purser, an altruistic geoduck harvester, paid for the first-year expenses out of his pocket. He said he should be able to continue fronting the team, but he hopes a few sponsors come on board to help with the finances.
If interested in joining the Bears, who practice on Wednesday evenings at the Zone Sportsplex in Poulsbo from 7-9 p.m., or sponsoring the county’s newest hard hitters, e-mail Purser at email@example.com.
In the meantime the Bears have six games remaining and return home to the Silverdale Stadium on Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. to battle the King County Jaguars.
“I’ve been playing so long and to actually have my own local team this is pretty much all I’ve wanted,” said Purser, whose favorite hobby is football. “I’m happy. There’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m really happy with what’s going on with the team.”