Talks with Hawks: Episode 14 – The Agro Brothers

There have been numerous examples of brother combinations that have excelled on the gridiron for Laurier.  Josh and Jesse Alexander, Dante and Vince Luciani, Mike and Dave Montoya, & Paul and Joe Nastasiuk are just a few examples. Today’s episode concerns the Agro brothers who both had stellar careers for the Hawks in the early 2000s. David Agro was a defensive back and OUA All Star with 15 career interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries. Andrew was also an OUA All Star WR with 128 career receptions and 16 touchdowns.

Dave Morrissey: While scouting in the Halton region over the past decade, I have had the good fortune to meet your father a few times. What role did he play in helping you achieve success on the football field?

Andrew Agro: Both my parents (Sharon & Richard) motivated us to take care of our school work, compete hard athletically, and most importantly, to exude sportsmanship on the field. Our dad coached us and taught us the game, but never put pressure on us. We started attending Vanier Cups at the Skydome with my dad when we were little kids. As we got older, we attended football camps at McMaster and Laurier. We looked up to CIS athletes. 

David Agro: My dad loves football. Seeing his success on the field and the relationships that he developed through playing & coaching football certainly had an impact on us. He never pushed us into playing, but he fully supported us when we showed interest. He coached me one year in house league and one year in high school. After that, he coached Andrew’s group from grade 9 to OAC and they advanced all the way to the Metro Bowl one year. Now that I am coaching, he still comes around to practices and games. He’s a great resource for breaking down film. 

(DM): Why did you choose to come to WLU?

(DA): When I visited Laurier, I really liked how it was a smaller school and a tight knit community. WLU had a strong football tradition and was always one of the top OUA teams.  After visiting with Coach Zmich, I committed and it’s a decision I’m glad I made. I was also excited when my brother joined the team.  Being 3 years apart in age, we never had the chance to play together before.

(AA): For me, WLU represented the best combination of athletics, academics, and campus life in Canada. I was able to interact personally with the Dean of Students, the University President, and the Athletic Director. The WLU Football House had a 24-7 open door policy. The fact that my dad and brother were in the Golden Hawk family certainly started the recruiting process early.

(DM): Given one of you was a receiver and the other was a defensive back, how often did you get to directly compete against each other in practice?

(AA): That was a unique part of our football dynamic. During 1 on 1s, receivers always have the advantage due to having so much open space. Overall, I’d say my brother won most of the battles given that he was the savvy veteran. I had to earn my stripes on the field and he certainly paved the way for me when I joined the team.

(DA): I can’t recall him ever beating me so I guess I won the majority of the battles. Being the older brother, I knew all his tricks and cues that I was able to use to my advantage. He might tell you otherwise!

(DM): David, you have some very interesting career statistics.  You were a defensive back yet you went 2/3 on pass attempts and had 1 punt for 55 yards. That probably makes you both the most accurate passer in WLU history and the record holder for highest punting average! 

(DA): Well, the pass attempts were because I was the holder for field goals and a few times on botched attempts I had to find an open receiver and hopefully complete a pass. As for the punt, it was at the end of a half. I was in our own end zone and on a missed field goal attempt by the other team, I kicked the ball out to avoid giving up a single point. I got a good roll and bounce! It definitely did NOT go 55 yards in the air. 

(DM): Is there one particular play that stands out for you during your career?

(AA): I was really fortunate to have the chance to play in many memorable games during my career. The final game of my career was the Vanier Cup victory in 2005. Being able to contribute by making a key reception which got us a 1st down on the game-winning drive stands out for me.

(DA): Aside from playing with my brother, my best memory would have to be our road victory in the OUA semifinal at Queens in 2003 and then losing the Yates Cup to McMaster the next week. The crowd at Ivor Wynne stadium was enormous. I played in 3 Yates Cup finals, but we lost all of them. Not winning a championship with my teammates and for my school was my biggest disappointment.

(DM): Tell me what both of you are doing in terms of careers.

(DA): I am a high school science teacher back at Notre Dame in Burlington.  I returned there two years ago after teaching elsewhere. I am a department head and I coach football and rugby.

(AA): After my time at Laurier, I pursued a graduate studies program in sports business at Ohio University. It was an industry that my sister opened my eyes to given her experiences working in the CFL head office. In 2007, I started a football operations internship with the New York Jets while in grad school. Since 2008, I have been working with the Jets full time in Corporate Sponsorship where I am responsible for forming business and marketing alliances.

(DM) Last November, I was in NYC one weekend to see my beloved Oakland Raiders play the Jets and Andrew was kind enough to hook me up with a couple of amazing seats for the game. The Raiders took an early 3 to 0  lead, but after that the Jets scored 34 unanswered points. It was pouring rain too.  Thanks again Andrew! How has the Covid-19 situation impacted your job?

(AA): The sales of our sponsorship assets (marketing, promotional, and hospitality) completely depend on the health of companies in the USA and around the world. Also, our inability to host spectators at MetLife Stadium this fall significantly negatively impacts us.

(DM): I was told that you guys were also able to play again together in Italy for a while. Tell me about that.

(AA): It was a pretty cool experience to be able to travel around Europe for the summer. The half time speeches were sometimes a bit hard to comprehend as they were partly in Italian. We also had to get used to the narrower sidelines and the smaller endzones too.

(DM): I imagine the field quality was bad too.  Last summer, Tanner Cadwallader, a recent WLU football graduate, played there. I watched a couple of games on YouTube.  It looked like a crappy high school field. 

(DA): We got our Italian passports through our grandparents and went to play for the Bergamo Lions.  We counted as Italians for the Eurobowl which helped the team because they were only allowed to have 5 players from the USA or Canada. We shared an apartment with another former WLU player, Mitch Zappitelli. We got paid monthly, were given an apartment and a car, and we got to see a lot of Europe. Practices were usually at night so we hopped on a lot of trains during the day to go see different cities.

(DM): If Hollywood was going to do a football movie about the Agro brothers, who would be good choices to play those roles?
(AA): I would say that Kevin (Fred Savage) and Paul (Josh Saviano) from the tv series The Wonder Years would be pretty good doppelgangers for the two of us. 

(DA): One of our favourite movies growing up was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Matthew Broderick(Ferris) would play me, and Alan Ruck (Ferris’ serious friend Cameron) would play my brother. 

Editor’s Note: That is amazing. The brothers were interviewed separately, and they both chose two actors from the same show or movie.

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