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Corner Brook athletes encouraged to have fun with football

Ryan Dyke of Corner Brook tosses the football with hopes of putting it through the hole during the Grey Cup Tour public viewing event Tuesday afternoon at the Studio in Corner Brook.
Ryan Dyke of Corner Brook tosses the football with hopes of putting it through the hole during the Grey Cup Tour public viewing event Tuesday afternoon at the Studio in Corner Brook.

Brad Sinopoli wants young football players to embrace a game that he believes will provide them with lessons that will prepare them for whatever they want to pursue in life.

Sinopoli and fellow Ottawa Redblacks star receiver Greg Ellingson were in Corner Brook Tuesday as the Grey Cup Tour made a stop in the city with team owner Jeff Hunt bringing the big trophy back to his native province.

The Western Newfoundland Football Association is introducing tackle football to youth on this side of the island for the first time this summer and Redblacks owner Hunt decided he wanted to help promote the game by bringing the Grey Cup to the province for only the second time in the history of the storied silverware.

Sinopoli said players need to keep in mind they will be learning a lot and everything will be new to them so it could be somewhat intimidating the first couple of times on the field. It was no different for him as he chased his dream of playing in the CFL. He remembers being intimidated when he went to a new team because it wasn’t familiar surroundings or familiar faces, but he realized he had to get over any fears he had and just focused on the fact he had a chance to play the game and it was up to him where he went with it.

“There’s a lot of times in life where you’re going to be not comfortable in a position in whatever you’re doing,” Sinopoli said Tuesday afternoon during a public viewing of the Grey Cup at the Studio. “Just to be able to come into a setting where everything is totally new to you, and just go all-in and have fun and learn as much as you can that’s the whole good thing about football.”

Sinopoli played four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, spending many games on the sidelines as a quarterback and at the bottom of the depth chart, before ending up in Ottawa, where he spent the past three seasons and now stands tall as a Grey Cup champion.

That’s one of the biggest challenges he faced along the journey. Making the switch from quarterback to receiver was new ground to him and it was really difficult for him to do so when he was already a pro.

“There were a lot of days and nights where I was worried I’d be cut and gone the next day and that I couldn’t do it,” he said

But, he woke every day with the vision that he work on small goals and knew anything was possible as long as he never game up on his dream.

It helps to be talented, but Sinopoli knows having the right attitude and being able always put the team first before personal goals was critical to keeping a job when there were many waiting to take it away from you.

“There’s a lot of really skilled players who come up and they just don’t have it in terms of fitting in with the team and the right attitude,” he said.

He encourages kids playing football to have fun with the game, but wants them to remember that respect for yourself and everybody else who share the gridiron is as important as a touchdown or field goal when the team needs it most.

The Redblacks went to the Grey Cup final in two straight years and lost.

They never quit no matter how devastated the loss was for them as a group.

They won it in 2017 and have quickly forgotten the sting of those two previous attempts.

Gavin Doman, proud of the Ottawa Redblacks cap his mom bought him when she arrived at the Studio Tuesday, poses with the Grey Cup with star receivers Greg Ellingson, left, and Brad Sinopoli.

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