author: brady lang | sports writer
Former Ram transitions to the life of a pro
The transition from the CIS to professional leagues may have been tough for some, but for Winnipeg Blue Bomber and former University of Regina Ram Addison Richards, the work that was put in was definitely worth the reward.
After spending four years as a Ram, the Sheldon Collegiate grad was drafted eleventh overall in the 2014 CFL draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Richards’ transition into the professional leagues was all about the speed of the sport.
“That can be summed up in one word, speed, and not just the on-field play,” says Richards. “You have to be able to absorb information at a much higher rate during meetings, and immediately transfer it onto the practice field. The ones that are able to do that the quickest are the ones you see on game day.”
The day-to-day lifestyle of a CIS athlete is definitely a lot different than that of a professional football player playing in the CFL. Instead of walking out of a class, a day is filled with meetings and workouts.
“In the CIS, much of your day is dedicated to your classes. As a professional player, the game is your central focus. Meetings, game-planning, and practice make up your workday. Also it is important to make sure you are staying as healthy as possible with daily workouts and treatments.”
The transition from the CIS to the CFL for Richards was aided by the people that he had surrounding him, as well as the top-notch staff with the Rams. The weekly preparation was very much the same, but the CFL is much more diligent in the preparation.
“With the Rams, I was fortunate to work with coaches that took a professional approach to the game,” says Richards. “The methods of game prep are the same. Watching a film of an opponent and taking notes on their tendencies is a pretty standard thing. Practicing against the looks you might see in the game based off of the film is also something everyone does. In the pros, it’s just on a grander scale and no detail is overlooked.”
Many of the players and coaches around Richards have helped the young receiver out, as well. With the addition of longtime Saskatchewan Rider Weston Dressler, along with the retained receiving core, every day is a day to learn for Richards.
“Canadian veterans at my position, Rory Kohlert and Julian Feoli-Gudino, have been great guys to learn from. It’s great to be able to ask questions and bounce ideas off of guys that have been doing it for a while. [Dressler] is a true pro, and his approach to the game rubs off on everyone. He’s been playing at such a high level for a long time. After watching him for so many years, it is pretty cool to have him as a teammate. He’s another one of those veteran guys that you can learn a ton from.”
The coaching staff has also been integral for Richards. A new veteran coach in Paul LaPolice, who was also the former head coach of the Bombers, was hired in the offseason as the new offensive coordinator.
“My old position coach with the Rams, Rick Seaman, always spoke very highly of coach LaPolice,” says Richards. “I first met him at the 2014 CIS East/West bowl. He’s a guy that has a strong passion for winning, and he demands that same attitude out of all his players. I hopefully get to work with him for a long time.”
Richards says the transition between his rookie season and his sophomore season was a lot easier than the jump from the CIS to the CFL.
“I definitely was excited for my second year, especially coming off of a disappointing rookie year that ended early because of injury. There were a lot less surprises with the day-to-day workload because I had been through it once before. A lot of the rookie jitters are now out of the way and the game has slowed down a bit.”
When asked about any advice to the players coming up the ranks in the CIS and what makes the transition easier, Richards had great advice for aspiring athletes.
“If you want to get to the professional level and stay there, it’s all about working hard. Whether there’s one hundred people watching you or if you’re all alone, your effort should not change. You’ve got to wake up everyday and think about your strengths and weaknesses, and look to attack those weaknesses until they’re no longer there. Once you’re in that cycle you’ll be in good shape. Once you reach this level, you’re bound to face adversity from fans, media, injuries, many sources. In two years I’ve had two injuries that have caused me to miss significant time, something that I haven’t dealt with much in my sports career. But, if you just keep chipping away and doing all of the right things, you’ll come out the other side and be rewarded for your efforts.”
We can look at Richards as a perfect role model for athletes gunning for the next step in their athletic careers. As a player born and raised in Regina, it just goes to show that with all of Richards’ hard work and determination, the next step is attainable.