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Coach Gibson to hold open tryouts for the Rams

Could always use more fodder on the front lines./ Arthur Ward
Could always use more fodder on the front lines./ Arthur Ward

Don’t miss out on your chance to gain University athletic glory

On Apr. 6, the Regina Rams will be hosting an open tryout for all of those interested in pursuing a position on the field during the upcoming season. Up for grabs is an invite to the Rams spring camp, which will be held from Apr. 24 – 26.

The event, as the Rams website states, “… is open to any current U of R students enrolled in at least nine credit hours.” The deadline for a submission of a participation form is Friday, Apr. 3.

The U of R has a few athletes who participate in more than one sport — Jeremy Zver (basketball and football) and Tevaughn Campbell (football and track and field) being two of the most notable — but, it is quite a rare development for the team to have a tryout which is open to all eligible U of R students.

Head Coach Mike Gibson described the rationale for the holding of an open try out this way, “There’s roughly 12,000+ students in this school. So I’m just going to say, if it’s a 50/50 ratio, that means there’s 6000 males in this school. We [have] got 63 on our football team. That means there are a lot of males out there, there’s got to be some guys who have played football in the past who maybe, for one reason or another, when they first came to the University didn’t think they could do it academically playing a sport, or didn’t really think about it, felt their playing career was over, and now that they’ve got their foot in the ground, and they’re doing well academically, or know what’s to be expected academically they may want to give it [playing football] a try.”

Many colleges and universities in other places, particularly south of the border in the United States, have a history of bringing in players – known as walk-ons – who, while they are not on scholarship, and were not heavily recruited, are given the opportunity to make their university’s varsity team. Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson, both members of the Green Bay Packers, were walk-ons at their respective colleges. Matthews was at the University of Southern California (USC), while Nelson plied his trade at wide receiver for Kansas State.

It is this (predominantly) American tradition that has prompted Coach Gibson to institute a similar model here at the University of Regina. Says Gibson, “Other places I’ve been, other universities – Rutgers, for example, down in the states  – we had something like this at one time and we got a player out of it.”

There are certain advantages, Gibson says, that come from recruiting a player who is already a student at the U of R.

“They’re already in school, so I don’t have to worry about, ‘Can they get in school academically?’ They know what to expect academically and so that’s not going to be a surprise for them. So, [we] just thought we’d extend an invitation out there to see if anybody was interested and, if we get no one that’s fine, or if we find two or three players to bring to camp, that’ll help our camp numbers and if, out of those two or three, if one or two is a good player and comes in and contributes or gets a chance, you never know. We’re always looking for players, so why not look in your own backyard.”

For those who do participate in the open tryout, the proceedings will be a combination of physical testing and football specific drills. Catching balls for the receivers, testing back-pedaling ability for the defensive backs, and bag drills for the linemen, among other tests.

From an observer’s perspective, it will be interesting to see who participates in the tryout. The city of Regina boasts many high schools that field football teams and the Thunder, the Queen City’s Canadian Junior Football League entry, always has a number of players who are taking University of Regina courses. Some make the decision to switch to the CIS at some point in their careers and this open tryout may be an opportunity for an athlete who is contemplating the switch to dip his toe in the water and gauge interest for his services.

On the other hand, one has to wonder whether, if someone does secure an invite to spring camp, if it will be because of previous football experience, or freakish athletic ability. At the time of our interview with Coach Gibson, only three prospective Rams have returned their participation forms to the organization. With the deadline approaching, that being Apr. 3, it doesn’t look as if there will be too many athletes for the coaches to pick from.

With each new coach comes a new approach, and the implementation of an open tryout process gives us, as students of the University of Regina, a look into the workings of one of our more prominent sports teams. Such an approach also illustrates just how deep the search for talent has become as the team begins to gear up for the new season.

The Rams have also decided to use their access to the University of Regina’s email system to contact the student body and further add to the quest for new athletes to take the field at Mosaic Stadium this fall. Who knows, maybe it will be one of these walk-ons, should they be successful, that will make a tangible difference during the upcoming season.

So, whether you’ve always fancied yourself a gun-slinging quarterback or a hard-hitting defensive lineman, now might be your opportunity. Whether you will become a new addition to the Rams lineup, or a human sacrifice to the regulars during spring camp, nobody knows, but all eligible students are welcome to try. If you do decide to strap on the pads, we here at the Carillon would love to hear about your experience once the event wraps up next week. Even if your Cinderella story turns out to be a definitive bruise and ice pack-filled disaster.

About John Loeppky

I am an athlete with a writing problem, or a writer with a sports problem, you decide. When I’m not editing, playing wheelchair sports, or advocating for the disabled, you can find me de-stressing with friends.