Talks with Hawks – Episode 10: Chris Reddy and Matt Fischer

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Laurier Football scout Dave Morrissey has spent his time in quarantine reaching out to and catching up with former Golden Hawk Football alumni. The result was a series of interviews with notable members of our Laurier Football community, which Dave was kind enough to share with us.

Matt Fischer played offensive line for Laurier in 2011 and 2012. Chris Reddy played offensive line for WLU from 2013 to 2017. Not everyone knows it, but those 2 guys are brothers. Matt got married to his wonderful wife Esthera last summer. It was a great event that I had the privilege to attend. They have a beautiful daughter named Lily who just turned 2. Chris is in the process of becoming a fire fighter. He is also a talented musician. In today’s column, we will try to solve a debate that has challenged the minds of many football pundits: who was better?

(Dave Morrissey): Why did you choose to come to WLU?

(Matt Fischer): Well, coming out of high school I had no grades. Laurier Scout Peter Billingsley encouraged me to go to Vanier in Montreal to play CEGEP football and improve my grades. After I played there for a couple of seasons, I improved on the field and in the classroom and my recruiting trip to Laurier included some other Vanier guys like Nick Sapone. I liked what Coach Jefferies and Ryan Pyear were selling at the time.

(Chris Reddy): I wanted to play at least one season with my brother. Being four years apart, we never had that experience. Unfortunately, right after I got here he had to end his career due to injuries. As well, I wanted to stay at home. I am a local guy and I knew I could save a lot of money by NOT going away to university.

(DM): Matt, did you help convince Chris to come to WLU?

(MF): Actually, it was quite the opposite. I think I told him to go play somewhere else. To me, a big part of the university experience is to get out of the house and I wanted him to have that experience. I think I suggested he stay in Quebec and go to the University of Montreal.

(DM): You both played CEGEP football in Quebec. Tell me a bit about that experience.

(MF): It was an incredible experience. I chose Vanier over John Abbot because the Vanier coach Peter Chyrssomalis seemed very serious and I knew the program had a history of success. I played two seasons there. Sadly, those 2 years we didn’t win a championship. The coach was tough and he demanded a lot and I liked that. The O Line coach Woodly Jean was also amazing. The level of football in terms of play and coaching is far higher at CEGEP than in Ontario high schools or summer league ball.

(CR): I agree totally with Matt. The coaching and the competition there is at a higher level, especially based on my high school experiences. I know Matt played on at least one really good high school championship team (Notre Dame in Brampton). The level of play in CEGEP is very close to the university level of football. It really prepared me to play in the OUA.

(DM): Tell me about your most memorable moments on the field at WLU, both good and bad.

(MF): It was a Homecoming game vs Ottawa. On a particular play, I threw a lead block for Dillon Campbell and I just buried a guy. Just watching his eyes roll back as his head hit the turf felt great. I know it sounds bad to say, but it was amazing. My worst moment was earlier in that same season. It was a home game at night vs Windsor. On one particular play, I snapped the ball early due to some miscommunication between me and the QB. That lead to a fumble and a Windsor touchdown soon after.  We lost that game 41 to 40 on a punt single on the last play of the game.

(CR): For me, the most memorable moment was the national semifinal playing at Laval. Although we lost, the environment was unreal. I think there were over 20 000 fans there, and for Canadian university football, that is a lot. And they were very vocal. They were even standing on the track just a couple of feet behind our bench yelling at us, swearing at us, throwing stuff at us. It certainly fired me up.

(DM): I remember that environment very well. It was amazing. I have never seen anything like that type of environment in the OUA. I was in awe. I remember it was so loud that Coach Faulds even had a bullhorn to call in plays to the QB. I had never seen that before either. Of course winning the Yates the week before was a more positive experience and the comeback was amazing, but that crowd at Laval is something I will never forget.

(CR): My worst moment on the field I think about it all the time. In my 2nd career start in my rookie season, we played York. I know I played poorly in the 2 or 3 games we played there in my career. Nothing went right that day. I snapped the ball early, late, high, and low. In didn’t help that some of my brothers friends were at the game and chirping me the whole time! Looking back on it, I find it funny, but at the time I actually wanted to be taken out of the game but Coach Irv Daymond stuck with me.

(DM): Who was the toughest guy you had to face in practice and on another team?

(MF): At WLU, for sure it was George Kourtelois. He was a pain in the ass and very tough. He was super hard to block. As far as other teams, I only played at WLU for 2 years. In my first year, I only played one game due to numerous concussions. I had at least 10 concussions playing football. In my 2nd year, I got much more playing time. Seamus Posthuma from Windsor was a big, heavy lug. He was very hard to block.

(CR): At Laurier, it was Rashari Henry. He had the quickness of a DE and the thickness of a DT. He also knew where to chop me to make my shoulders feel like crap. He always had an answer for everything I could throw at him.  Every guy I played against on other teams were tough to play against. The challenge was how to deal with different players’ strengths.

(DM): Chris, you used to have a poster in your locker that was kind of interesting. Can you talk about that?

(CR): Yeah, it said ‘You are not good enough to be selected to play in the East West game’ (an annual Usports football game held in May featuring players who will be entering their draft year in the fall). After spring camp at the end of my third year, it is something I really wanted. I set goals for myself when I came to WLU. I wanted to be All Ontario, All Canadian, and to get an East West invite. When it didn’t happen, I got angry. I felt I deserved it. Coaches select who goes. I feel my style of play didn’t endear me to many coaches on other teams. I tried very hard to be a bully on the field. I would understand why other coaches wouldn’t like me because of that. The poster was just meant for me as a motivator.

(DM): I remember seeing it. I think I remember even asking you about it. You didn’t want to say too much about it. I think it did serve as a motivator though. Before Chris’ career was done at WLU, he won a Yates Cup and he was selected as the offensive MVP in one year and selected as an OUA All Star in another year.

So gentlemen, here is the key question that needs to be answered. Who was the better player?

(MF): My brother was better. He played multiple positions, and excelled as an undersized tackle. He also started many more games and he won a championship in CEGEP and a Yates Cup with Laurier.

(CR): That’s an unfair question. That’s like comparing Wayne Gretzky to Maurice Richard. You are talking about guys from different eras and different styles of play.

(DM): I’m not so sure about the different eras part! You missed each other by only one year. You both certainly did have a nasty streak and that is something I enjoyed watching you both exhibit. Chris, you must have some kind of unofficial record in terms of the amount of starts. You started for 5 years except for maybe 1 or 2 games plus another 8 playoff games. What kind of injuries did you battle to stay on the field?

(CR): I missed my first game as a rookie with a concussion. After that, I had a bunch of other injuries. I broke my foot, I had my knee and shoulder scoped, and many strains and sprains. The toughest injury was my shoulders. Over time after years of playing, they started to wear down. Finding ways to manage the pain was hard.

(DM): Being around the team for almost 10 years and also being a big ‘music guy’, I have noticed certain things in the locker room. Why do all offensive lineman like country music?

(CR): I wouldn’t say all of them like it. There are a lot of big old farm kids that like trucks and like to drink beer so that style of music fits them well.

(DM): Well, on days when I designed playlists for practice, I sure as hell wasn’t going to put any country music on. To me, it’s just not a good fit! Matt, in addition to working as a fraud investigator, you are the equipment manager for Laurier. Tell me a bit about how that role came about.

(MF): I credit Coach Jefferies with that. After I retired due to injury, I was going through a very hard time. Coach Jeff really cares about people. He wanted to keep me close to the program. He made me Mike Quinn’s assistant on the condition that I stay in school. That lasted for a while. Coach Jefferies was replaced and then I dropped out. I went back to Montreal for a while. I came back to KW to watch some of the summer workouts that my brother was participating in. That’s when I met Coach Faulds and he convinced me take over as the full time equipment manager.

(DM): Chris, tell me about your current career path.

(CR): Well, after I was done university I planned to become a conservation officer but Myles Methner’s dad Peter (who has done lots of amazing photography for the football team) started to talk to me about becoming a firefighter. Hearing his passion for the job got my excited about the idea so I went to Lambton College in Sarnia and then I got on with the volunteer Fire Department in Port Edward. Responding to calls is a rush. I like being able to help people, especially during a difficult time in their lives. I very much enjoy what I am doing and hope to work my way up to a full time position.

(DM): Many former offensive linemen later on struggle with weight issues, but you two guys are exceptions. What was your playing weight and what is your current weight?

(MF): When I played, I was always between 300 and 315. Right after I stopped playing, I vowed to lose the weight. Carrying all the weight was hard on the body and made it hard to meet women! I shed a lot of weight very quickly. Doing the Insanity workouts got me down to 215 in 3 months.

(DM): That IS insane! We had a former scout Jason Vandale who looks like a marathon runner. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he used to be a 300 pound O Lineman.

(CR): My football weight varied a lot. I think in my third year I came in at 245. That was my lightest playing weight. I couldn’t maintain weight that year. The heaviest I played at was 280. I felt that was too much for me. I couldn’t run as well as I needed. My last year I played at 265 and that seemed perfect for me. Now, I fluctuate from 205 to 220. To lose the weight, I just simply stopped eating as much and did a lot of exercise . I lost the weight in about 4 months.

(DM): A few years ago, there was a hilarious movie called Stepbrothers. Imagine if they made a movie called Half Brothers. Who would star as you and your brother?

(MF): Tom Hardy would play me and Joaquin Phoenix would play Chris because both those guys are very awkward!

(CR): I am pretty sarcastic. I think Ryan Reynolds would be a good choice to play me. As for my brother, I think Bruce Willis. He plays a lot of serious characters with a little bit of humour and they have a similar haircut.

(DM): Thanks guys! I will have my people call your people and let’s see if we can’t get this potential Hollywood Blockbuster off the ground!

Talks with Hawks will return soon with Episode 11: Bizarre Plays

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