It's Joe's last go

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

Sticking to a tradition that began when the Renegades started operation four years ago, Dottie Paopao and Gay Kauahi yesterday brought lunch to the team's coaching staff on the final day of practice before a game.

On yesterday's menu were sandwiches and macaroni salad, with an added surprise main course of moose burgers, brought in by strength coach Phil Jewell.

But yesterday was anything but ordinary.

Paopao, wife of Renegades coach Joe, and Kauahi, wife of assistant head coach Kani, ventured where they usually don't tread, plunking themselves on one of the benches beside the players on the south sideline of Frank Clair Stadium during practice.

They started to say their good-byes to many of the players, who have become part of their families.

And the farewells will continue over the next few days while their husbands complete their final days as coaches with the Renegades.

It's something Dottie Paopao and Gay Kauahi have come to expect in the world of professional sport where you could be here one year and gone the next.

"But it's always hard. It's an era in your life that's over, and it will never be the same again," said Kauahi.

TOUGH ON WIVES

The past few months have been tough on the families of the Renegades coaches.

Yesterday, Dottie Paopao spoke about a tearful phone conversation she had with her daughter, Kristin, who is attending university in the U.S.

The Paopaos have lived in different cities and have been forced to leave because of coaching changes before.

But this time, it's more difficult.

"If you can walk away from some place and not be sad ... what was the point of you being there in the first place?" a tearful Dottie Paopao asked yesterday.

"I'm sad because I'm going to miss these people. They took a little piece of my heart.

"But I'd rather have it that way than to just shut the door and say, 'Let's get out of here.' "

Yesterday, Paopao ran his last practice as coach of the Renegades.

"It's the last time I'm going to blow the whistle on this field," he said. "It's been a long run."

The 6-11 Renegades play their final game of the season tomorrow afternoon against the Argonauts.

JENKINS COMING IN

It will also be the last game for Paopao, who will be replaced by John Jenkins as coach and GM.

"It's a sombre feeling to be out here because it's the last practice of the year, and, unfortunately, with this coaching staff," said quarterback Kerry Joseph.

The team has its pre-game walk-through at the stadium this morning.

Then tomorrow will be one of the more emotional days for many of the players, especially when Paopao enters the locker room for his post-game speech.

"I think it's going to be a tough day for everybody," said Joseph. "It's going to be a fun day, but also at the same time it's going to be bittersweet."

GRID BITS: WR David Azzi and G Morris Unutoa are off the roster for tomorrow's game, with WR Pat Woodcock and OL Jean-Francois Roy checking in.


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