Most athletes will tell you how teammates are their family.
Sure, there may be the occasional disagreement or difference of opinions, but more often than not, family members have each other’s back.
For Brad Goodchild, football and his teammates helped fill that family void that was so sorely lacking in his life.
This is what happens when your father was not a part of your life and you are forced to raise your little brother because your mother is a drug addict.
While most 13-year-olds live a fairly carefree life, it was completely the opposite for Goodchild.
He was the one who registered his brother for kindergarten and dropped him off and picked him up for school every day.
Their mom would show up for a day or two and then be gone for weeks.
“We were just getting by day to day,” Goodchild said. “Not necessarily having food or money or having a place to stay.”
Eventually, they were kicked out of their Surrey rental home.
It had been three weeks since they last saw their mom and with nowhere to go, they went to their maternal grandparents. The grandparents had no clue of the extent of their daughter’s drug addiction.
“I basically showed up at my grandparents house with me, my brother and a bag of clothes,” Goodchild said.
It was a lot for his grandparents, both of whom were in their 60s, to handle, he admitted.
“My grandparents stepped up to help out big time,” he said.
But while his family situation may have been far from ideal at home, football played a big role in filling that void.
“Football as a whole for me is a family thing because that is what was lacking for me in reality,” he explained.
Now 19, Goodchild has played the sport since he was a kid, after an uncle signed him up with the Cloverdale Community Football program.
Big and strong, he excelled along the offensive line at every age-group level, winning numerous awards as the top offensive lineman in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He was also team MVP in 2008.
“He was a hell of an offensive lineman,” said Derek Faggiani, coach of the Bengals. “A very commanding presence and a great kid to coach.”
Faggiani said the offensive line that season was probably the best he has ever coached in his 15 years.
“And Brad was the catalyst of that group,” he said.
Goodchild also spent three seasons playing high school football for Lord Tweedsmuir before returning to community football with the midget Cloverdale Bengals as an 18-year-old.
No matter how dire the circumstances, Goodchild refused to use his personal situation as a crutch.
“I never really got stuck in the ‘woe is me’ or feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t see it getting me anywhere,” he explained.
It was also important his brother didn’t develop that attitude, he felt.
“Nobody is going to show up with a bunch of money to help you out, you have to stay in school, make sure you are taking care of your business (and) doing what you have to do,” Goodchild explained.
Education was always important.
Goodchild skipped the eighth grade and graduated from Lord Tweedsmuir in 2010, with a 95 per cent average.
Lacking the means to pay for post-secondary schooling, Goodchild successfully applied for a scholarship from The Cmolik Foundation, a B.C. based charitable foundation which awards scholarships to financially-challenged students who have overcome a significant barrier or disadvantage in their life.
“The foundation wants to invest in kids who wouldn’t have a chance to go to university themselves, but who have the values that are going to make a difference in society,” explained Bob Coventry, a trustee with the Cmolik Foundation.
Coventry, now retired, is also a former assistant superintendent with the Surrey School District.
He knew plenty about Goodchild from the students’ teachers and coaches.
“He is a compassionate, confident, very humble young man,” Coventry said.
“He has a quiet confidence.”
The foundation asks for students to be nominated by teachers.
“They all spoke highly on his behalf,” Coventry said.
The scholarship provides tuition and books for five years.
Goodchild chose Simon Fraser University, largely because of the school’s psychology program.
With school and work — Goodchild works as a mover — taking up much of his time, he was ready to call it quits in football.
But after being spotted by the Langley Rams last spring during the Star Bowl, an all-star game for the top midget community football players, he was persuaded to join the junior football program for 18-to-22-year-olds.
After a few games adjusting to the junior level, Goodchild settled in nicely as the Rams’ centre.
“It is one thing to be good at something, but if you don’t work at it, you are never going to get better, so I am always striving to get a little bit better at everything,” Goodchild said.
Now, he can’t imagine not being part of the game.
“Honestly, I just realized how important football was to me because it makes up that whole family thing that I lacked,” he said.
“It is a brotherhood, everybody just takes care of each other.”
Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda said the team only found out about Goodchild’s background, which included couch surfing at his friends’ places until he recently found his own place in Cloverdale with a roommate, when they were collecting players’ dues.
Goodchild’s brother remains with the grandparents.
“It was like he didn’t want anyone to give him special treatment, giving him a special position or allowing him to miss practice, based on his situation,” the coach said.
“He didn’t say a word about it, he just worked and worked and worked.”
The coach described Goodchild as very charismatic.
“He always has a smile on his face and he is one of those guys you can’t not like,” Alamolhoda said.
“You can tell he just loves playing the game.
“He is there for the love of the game and being around the guys, always smiling, super happy all the time.”