In 2009, I became interested in the communication system used in the NFL by coaches and quarterbacks that incorporated a microphone in the QB’s helmet. Such a system wasn’t used at all in Canada back then. I actually rented a couple from an American firm for $5000 for a season and used them with my high school team. So as to not gain a competitive advantage, I gave out the contact information to all the other coaches in the region but only one other one took advantage. Sadly, the systems were ruled illegal right before the playoffs started. Oh, and in our last regular season game, both my quarterbacks were injured which meant we had nobody with any experience for the playoffs. I still remember losing that game 2 to 0 on a conceded safety early in the game. Future U of T defensive lineman Corey Williams returned a fumble for a touchdown with a minute left in the game but the runner was ruled down by contact. Still interested in the concept of coach to QB communication, I came across a water ski instructor in Australia who developed a system to train his pupils. He invented a helmet with a microphone in it that allowed him to communicate with them from up to 4 km away. To make a long story short, I contacted him and the discussion lead to me sending him 5 football helmets. He incorporated the system into those helmets and then I went on a ‘road show’ to about a number of Canadian universities (Western, McMaster, Queens, McGill, and Laurier) to ‘demo’ the product. Everyone I met was excited about the possibilities as the communication system was effective and inexpensive. However, the guy was not willing to share his technology with any major football helmet manufacturer so the collaboration ended.
In the summer of 2019, I was down in the basement of the football house that the Laurier coaching staff proudly calls home. Down there was a large collection of football pictures and some other WLU football memorabilia. I thought it would be a good idea to reunite some of that stuff with their rightful owners. One guy I managed to contact was Ken Evraire. He was living in Ottawa, and I knew that we had a road game against the Gee Gees so I got ahold of him and invited him to join us on the sideline for that game and I was able to give him a couple of framed photographs. Ken was a star Wide Receiver for Laurier from 1985 to 1987. He was the 1985 OUA Rookie of the Year, a team MVP and President’s Award winner at Laurier in 1986, a CIS 1st team All Canadian in 1986 & 1987, a 3 time OUA 1st team All Star, and a Laurier Hall of Fame inductee in 1993. After that, he played in the CFL from 1988 to 1997. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Ken. During our 40 minute chat, he had me laughing out loud at least a dozen times.
Golden Hawk alumni & friends of the football program,
This newsletter is brought to you by our great friends and the best movers AMJ Campbell.
In December of last year, I received the horrible news that a friend and former colleague of mine in education had attempted suicide. Happily married with two young children and universally loved, admired, and respected by all of those who knew him, I was totally shocked by what happened. Soon after, he succumbed to his injuries. I have known Anthony Maggiacomo casually for a few years. We have chatted at a couple of Golden Hawk training camps and after games on a few occasions. Anthony was a two time OUA champion, a Vanier Cup champion, a 1st team OUA All Star, a CIS 2nd team All Star, a team MVP, a WLU Athlete of the Year, and a 2013 Laurier Hall of Fame Inductee. At the annual football awards dinner that occurred in January, I was made aware of a scholarship in memory of Lee Maggiacomo who died by an act of suicide in 2006. I was not aware of that fact. A few weeks ago, I reached out to Anthony and asked him about his willingness to talk about his career and his brother. He graciously accepted and we met for some beers in a small Kitchener pub. Three hours later, I came away knowing a lot more about Anthony, Lee, and the importance of shining a light on a difficult subject.
Someone once said that talking to one’s own self is a sign of impending mental collapse. Living alone and being in a quarantine situation, I have had a lot of time to think. One of the things I have reflected upon was the 2019 football season. I have been on the sideline for virtually every Hawks game since 2011. I have witnessed many amazing things. There have been incredible highs, and some enormous lows. However, without a doubt, one of the most bizarre seasons any team has ever experienced belonged to the 2019 Hawks. So, this episode will be a discussion with myself: a chronicle of what happened during the 2019 season.
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.
The number 13 has always had superstition attached to it, especially so in the sports world. When I was growing up, hardly any athletes in any of the major sports dared to don that number. Notable exceptions were Wilt Chamberlain, Dan Marino, Mats Sundin, and former Hawk Mario Villamizar who is now a member of the British Columbia Lions. In today’s episode, I reached out to a number of former Hawks and asked them to describe to me their specific game day superstitions and/or rituals. The results were very entertaining!
Hugh Lawson excelled as a defensive linemen for the Hawks from 1988 to 1992. He was a three time OUA All Star and a key member of the 1991 National Championship team. In the summer of 2014, I had just helped my girlfriend move from Milton to Markham. I stopped into a Harvey’s to pick us up some lunch and there was a guy there in line near me. We eyed each other for a couple of minutes, both seemingly recognizing each other, but not really sure. I was not 100% certain it was Hugh because his shirt wasn’t exposing his abs! As he later told me, “Hey, when you’ve got it, flaunt it!” He also told me that I looked exactly the same as I did in university, which is a sure sign of how nice a guy Hugh is, or perhaps, it’s a sign of post- concussion syndrome. I was a year ahead of Hugh at WLU and although we didn’t know each other back then, we did see each other in the weight room quite often. I am not sure which one of us broke the ice that day in the Harvey’s, but since then I have had the pleasure of talking to Hugh a few times over the last half dozen years. He was gracious enough to be the source of this column.
For this episode’s edition, I asked a number of coaches on the Hawks staff to briefly relay to me the most bizarre play that they have ever been involved in. For me, it was a semifinal game in 2003 for a high school team I coached. We trailed 14 to 13 with 1 second left. We had used about 4 or 5 kickers that year and the guy who debuted as our kicker the previous week was actually one of our starting linebackers. During the game, he had missed two easy field goals and there was a botched extra point that wasn’t his fault. Now, it was down to the last play of the game and an attempt from about 30 yards. The field goal attempt was wide. The other team punted the ball out to avoid giving up a single point which would have tied the game. Our guy, future University of Western & CFL lineman Chris Greaves caught it and was immediately tackled. Game over right? WRONG! A no yards penalty was called. So, our kicker got a 2nd try from closer. The exact same thing happened again! On his 3rd attempt, the kicker was successful. He was 1 for 5 on the day and he ended up being the hero!
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?