Ray Crawford is back behind the bench this year with the South Delta Sun Devils, refusing to let a skin condition he’s had since the 1970’s get in the way of his true passion: sports
Crawford, 65, first discovered he had Psoriasis in 1974 during a trip to Scotland when his Nana noticed scaly patches on his skin. He says she knew it was Psoriasis because his great-great grandfather also had the condition. His family doctor immediately referred him to a dermatologist whose primary diagnosis was Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition and a common skin disease that affects close to 1 million Canadians. The symptoms of the condition are red patches of skin covered in silvery scales that can itch and burn. The skin often becomes dry,cracked and bleeds.
In 1988, Crawford was asked to join the Meraloma Football Alumni Team that went to play American football in Wales and Scotland. At this point, 80% of his skin was covered by these scaly patches, but was only visible on his elbows, shins and knees, as the rest was covered by his clothing. He says he experienced some embarrassment during this time, but not from the other players.
“The embarrassment that I felt was self inflicted as none of my teammates ever made light of my situation. If you have ever been in a team changing room you would know that the team can subject each other to incessant tribulations of teasing, all in good nature. However, no one ever said anything derogatory about my psoriasis.”
Even though Psoriasis affects Crawford psychically and emotionally, he refuses to let it interfere with his life. In 2009, Crawford was asked to join the Sun Devils coaching staff and jumped at the opportunity.
“High School Football is the pinnacle of any young man’s playing career. After High School the numbers drop as to who continues to play. Some play at the college level, others play Community Football for BC Junior Football. After that even fewer players will go on to the pros,” he says.
Every coach strives to win games, and South Delta has won their fair share, taking home the championship in 2008, 2010 and 2014 but for Crawford, it’s about something so much more than just winning games
“Of course winning games and winning championships is nice, [we were] league champions in 2008, 2012 and 2014, but the real payoff is when a player tells you that he has been accepted at university or in some cases at a trade school.”
Today, Crawford’s condition is under control, thanks to regular injections which he calls “a miracle treatment”. He is now only left with two small patches on his stomach. Even though his condition is under control, he says he still talks about it “not to make light of my life with psoriasis, rather to have people realize that as bad as psoriasis is and it is bad, there is always something else, and you just have to keep a positive outlook.”
As far as coaching is concerned, Crawford isn’t ready to call it a day quite yet. Even though he considered retirement in 2013, he was drawn back in because he still loves the game and can see the appreciation in the kids every time they say “Hey Coach C, how you doing?”