Two former gridiron coaches, father-and-son duo Joe and Chris Martino, have just released a book about the growth of football in Parksville.
It’s called It Takes a Posse.
The book reflects on the history of the successful football program in Parksville began humbly when the Posse was created in the 1990s, laying the foundation and culture of the sport in the city.
The community rallied behind the formation of the Posse, who within two years won the British Columbia and Canadian championships, putting Parksville on the football map.
“With a posse of enthused supporters wanting more, Chris and Joe Martino took their unique brand of football to the local high school, changing the culture forever,” reads the book’s cover synopsis. “The Ballenas Whalers finished as runners-up in the championship game in only their second year of competition and won the AA high school provincial championship in year three. It remains one of the province’s premier youth programs almost 25 years later.”
Joe said the experience they had with the Posse and Whalers prompted he and his son to document the history of football in Parksville. They conducted a myriad of interviews involving past players, coaches and individuals who were instrumental in contributing to the success of the sport.
“We wanted to get other people’s input, we wanted to get other people’s colourings and takes on their experiences and that sort of thing,” said Joe. “So we conducted about 60 interviews and recorded and transcribed. After transcribing them, Chris and I looked at them and said ‘we have to release these as a separate volume because all these people are over 20 years removed from the program’. And they’re reflecting back on what the program did for them and what it has meant to them in their lives. Their testimonials were just precious.”
Joe was involved with the Football Nanaimo program in the 1990s. When Chris finished playing with the Canadian Junior Football League Vancouver Island Sharks in Victoria, Joe said they decided to consider forming a second junior bantam team in Parksville, which already had the Parksville Packers that was under the auspices of Football Nanaimo and coached by Mike Watson.
The initial effort to form a team failed. But they accepted an offer from Watson to help coach the Packers, which in 1997 went undefeated in the regular season but lost to the Nanaimo Wellington Broncos for the league title. The Martinos continued their quest to form a Parksville team and were able to convince Football Nanaimo to support a second bantam team for its league. That’s when they formed the Parksville Posse.
“We were real keen back in the day getting as many people involved as possible,” Joe recalled. “We knew it was going to take an army to get this thing off the ground. We always looked at it like a posse so we called the team the Parksville Posse. But it was bigger than that. It was all the people involved. This is why we called the book It Takes a Posse.”
The Posse, in their inaugural season, won the North Island title but lost to the Colwood Warriors in the Island championship game.
The following year, the Posse broke from Football Nanaimo and created the Oceanside Youth Football Association in Parksville. They expanded to three junior bantam teams, and featured a second-year Posse team full of seasoned players. The Posse lost just one game in the regular season to the rival Nanaimo Lions but avenged the loss when they won the Vancouver Island championship. They went on to win the provincial championships.
Following that success, football was then introduced to Ballenas Secondary and in only their second year, they lost in the championship game but won the provincial crown the following year.
The book, published by Madman Method Media on Oct. 15, is now available on Amazon on paperback and via Kindle.
Joe and Chris have already written a second book called Down by Six, which is the Ballenas Whalers mantra and battle cry whenever they play. Joe said they came up with the phrase to avoid penalties during the course of a game.
“The entire premise was that (stuff) happens but we were going to be masters of our own fate,” he said. “That missed foul, or that errant flag, that missed field goal or that single interception - none of those would be an excuse for us losing a game. Our belief was if we played every play with the urgency of being down by six, we will never be in a position for those other things to affect us. No excuses.”