Talks with Hawks

Talks with Hawks: Episode 22 – Tom Arnott

Hired by legendary Laurier football coach David ‘Tuffy’ Knight, Tom Arnott started his coaching career at WLU in 1983 as the offensive line coach. He later became responsible for recruiting and he was the offensive coordinator for one of the greatest Golden Hawk teams of all time, the 1987 Yates Cup Championship team. He later went on to become the Head Coach at York for ten years and the Head Coach at Guelph for five years. Twice he was honoured as the OUA Coach of the Year. I have known Tom for 14 years. I first met Tom in 2006 when he took my job, but more about that later….READ MORE

Talks with Hawks: Episode 21 – Shamawd Chambers

Shamawd Chambers played Wide Receiver for Laurier from 2008 to 2011. He caught 123 passes for 15 touchdowns during the regular season. He was three time OUA All Star.  After that, he played 6 seasons in the CFL catching 169 passes and another 8 touchdowns.  In 2015, he missed most of the season due to injury, but he recovered in time to play a key role in Edmonton’s Grey Cup victory that year.  Another injury unexpectedly cut his career short just prior to the 2018 season.  2011 was his last year at Laurier, but it was my first year assisting with the team, so I really didn’t get much of a chance to know him. Happily, 9 years later I got the chance to learn more about him…READ MORE

Talks with Hawks: Episode 20 – Andre Talbot 

     Andre Talbot starred at Wide Receiver for Laurier from 1997 to 2000.  In his final two seasons, he was a 1st Team All Canadian & OUA All Star.  In 2000, he was also the team MVP.  Six years later, he was inducted in to the Laurier Hall of Fame.   In 2001, Talbot was drafted in the 5th round by the Toronto Argos.  Early in his career, he persevered through serious injuries and ultimately played ten seasons in the CFL with 288 career receptions and 18 touchdowns He was also a Grey Cup Champion in 2004.  I had met Andre at a Laurier training camp a couple of years ago.  Last summer, I asked him if he could work with my high school team for one day in July and he graciously agreed to come out to Mississauga to work with a group of very raw players.  Andre is a deep, thoughtful, inspirational individual and it was a pleasure to talk to him.  Among other things, it turns out we both have a ‘thing’ for waterfalls.

READ MORE

Talks with Hawks: Episode 19 – Dillon Campbell

In 2011, the top 3 rushers at WLU combined for less than 800 yards during the entire season.  In 2012, the top rusher for Laurier was QB Travis Eman with 228 yards.  Including him, the top 4 rushers combined for less than 700 yards during the entire season.  Those two years were Dillon Campbell’s first two years at Laurier.  He didn’t play much as a freshman and he had some injury problems in his 2nd year.  After two seasons, he only had a total of 30 carries for 128 yards.  In 2013, it was Coach Faulds’ first season at Laurier.  In the next three regular seasons, Campbell ran for 867, 1458 and 1115 yards to become the leading rusher in Laurier history.  Just recently, Campbell was announced as a 2020 Laurier Athletics Hall of Fame inductee in his first year of eligibility.  In fact, the day the announcement was made public, I just so happened to be scheduled to interview him…READ MORE

Talks with Hawks: Episode 18 – Ryan Pyear

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 won 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 waterski 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...READ MORE.

Talks with Hawks: Episode 17 – Ken Evraire

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….READ MORE.

Talks with Hawks: Episode 16 – A look back on the career of a Golden Hawk Hall of Famer and Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness & Suicide (Anthony Maggiacomo and Lee Maggiacomo)

AnthonyLee

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.  READ MORE

Episode 15: Talking to Myself (2019 Analysis)

Talking to Myself

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. READ MORE

Episode 14: The Agro Brothers

Agro Brothers 2

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. READ MORE

Episode 13: (Unlucky) 13

mario-villamizar

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!…READ MORE

 Episode 12: Hugh Lawson

Hugh Lawson

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…READ MORE.

Episode 11: Bizarre Plays

IMG_5368

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…READ MORE.

Episode 10: Chris Reddy and Matt Fischer

fish

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?…READ MORE.

Episode 9: Ese Mrabure-Ajufo

Ese Mrabure-Ajufo was a force on the defensive line for the Hawks from 2011 to 2014.  An OUA All Star in his senior year, he was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 CFL draft by the British Columbia Lions. Currently a free agent looking for a new team, he has found his current joy in spending time with his new daughter Imani…READ MORE.

Episode 8: Tim Bisci

In my senior year of high school football, our head coach thought we needed an upgrade in a few areas, so he convinced a guard, a linebacker, and a QB from 3 rival schools to transfer to ND. The QB was Tim Bisci. We were a running team and he was fast as lightening and a very effective option quarterback.  At Laurier, he was immediately converted to a defensive back.  He was a two time OUA All Star, a key member of the 1991 Vanier Cup championship team, and a WLU Hall of Fame inductee in 2003. Moreover, he has been a very successful high school coach at Notre Dame in Welland for two decades…READ MORE.

Episode 7: Stacey Coray

staceycoray

In 1970, Stacey Coray and Roan Kane became the first black players to play for WLU (they were joined by Howard Masters a year later). I was able to track down Mr. Coray for an interview. Coray was a defensive back who played for 3 years before moving on to the CFL and then a very successful career. He was kind enough to spend an hour with me reminiscing about his father, his playing days, and his life now. Interestingly enough, he was on his way to visit his father, and that was the subject of my 1st question…READ MORE.

Episode 6: Kickers Roundtable

Other than perhaps the goaltender in hockey or soccer, no position in team sports is so full of pressure than the kicker in football. They sit on the sideline the majority of the game and when they do come in for a field goal or an extra point, they are expected to be perfect. For punts, they are expected to bomb one every time. Today we talk to six of Laurier’s former kickers:  Chris Mamo, Spiros Anastasakis, Ed Becker, Brian Devlin, Ronnie Pfeffer, and Nathan Mesher…READ MORE.

Episode 5: Chris Vlowianitis

A typical university football roster in Canada has now over 100 players, but only less than half of those players will dress on game day. What is the experience like for those who don’t get to lace up their cleats on Saturdays in the fall? Today’s interview examines that reality.

Chris Vlowianitis was a WR on the Laurier Roster in 2004 and 2005, after an extremely successful high school career at St. Francis Xavier in Mississauga, where I was his Offensive Coordinator. Although Chris was a part of the back-to-back Yates Cup championship teams, and a member of the Vanier Cup championship squad, Chris never made the game day dress squad as a Golden Hawk…READ MORE.

Episode 4: Rohan Thompson

art9419_pic1

Our fourth episode features Rohan Thompson, who played with linebacker for the Hawks from 2000 to 2002.  In his 3 years at WLU, he was selected as the team MVP once and an OUA 1st Team All Star twice…READ MORE.

Episode 3: David Montoya

Our third episode features former WLU defensive lineman David Montoya. He was a key member of the 2004 Yates Cup championship team and the 2005 Vanier Cup championship team. In 2005, he was also a 2nd team OUA All Star as well as the Defensive MVP in the Vanier Cup. He played with the Hawks from 2003 to 2006 and again in 2010. I first met David in 2011 or 2012 and he is easily one of the nicest, most positive people I have ever met. He is one of those people whose energy just brings up the entire room. He was kind enough to invite me over to his place to do our interview.  An unexpected BBQ fire turned our medium steaks into Chicago-style, but it was still an enjoyable meal…READ MORE.

Episode 2: Chris Ackie

Today’s interview features a defensive back who played with the Golden Hawks from 2011-2014, Chris Ackie. A feature in the WLU defence from day 1, Ackie was named Rookie of the Year in 2011. He continued to impress throughout his OUA career, being named a 2nd team OUA All Star in his third season, and a 1st team All Canadian in his Senior year. In the spring of 2015, he was drafted 4th overall in the CFL Draft by the Montreal Alouettes…READ MORE.

Episode 1: Scott Hutter

In today’s edition of “Talks with Hawks”, Morrissey chats with Hutter about topics such as his time as a Golden Hawk, COVID-19 and its effect on the life of a CFL player, and walking into an Edmonton Eskimos locker room for the first time and seeing some familiar faces… READ MORE.