Exams and classes might be over for the winter semester, but three Gryphons are expecting to do plenty of learning this week.
Linebacker Royce Metchie, defensive back Nick Parisotto and punter/kicker Gabe Ferraro are in Quebec City for the annual U Sports Valero East-West Bowl.
“I expect to have fun and I expect to learn a lot just because I’m meeting with all these players from all around,” Metchie said. “I want to see how they play, the difference in the way they play.”
“I’m just going eyes open, ears open, ready to learn whatever I can and show what I can do to anyone watching,” Ferraro said.
All felt fortunate to be selected to participate in the week-long event that culminates with Saturday’s East-West Bowl. Players picked are those who are eligible to be picked in next year’s CFL draft.
“It’s an honour,” Ferraro said. “I’m very excited to go. So many guys before me on this team have got to go and on other teams. It’s just an opportunity.”
“I feel honoured because I know there are a lot of guys here that should also be out there and me being picked as one of the contenders, it really means a lot to me,” Metchie said. “I hope I can go out there and showcase what I have to offer.”
“I’m extremely honoured to be picked for it, being judged by my peers and coaches from around the league,” Parisotto said. “Being selected to go there, I’ve been working for this for a number of years now and I’m just extremely excited to be able to go and to participate.”
A fourth Gryphon was picked to participate but offensive lineman Andrew Pickett had to forego the event after injuring his left knee in a mini-camp days after the East-West rosters were announced.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” he said. “East-West is something I’ve been aiming for since coming into university. It’s something you’ve heard guys going to. It’s something you’ve been looking forward to. It’s something you’ve been training for and then to be told you’re going and then to have it taken away and it just be a rocky road, it definitely sucks and it’s definitely disappointing. But you know what, just because life gives you a cactus doesn’t mean you have to sit on it. I’ll be training for next season, come back bigger and better for next season and show what I could have done at East-West next season.”
He’s well along the recovery road and plans to be back in time for training camp in August.
“Rehab’s going amazing,” Pickett said. “T (Gryphon athletic therapist Teresa Budwal) is really helping me and really making it great. T’s definitely making it worthwhile. She’s pushing it, we’re pushing it and making it good. The zero-gravity treadmill that coach (Stu) Lang got us has been phenomenal. I’ve been on that every day. I’ve been wearing my space pants every day, going to outer space -- so walking on the moon, as some of the guys say. The recovery process, it’s slow at times. There are definitely down days and you just have to battle through them. It’s a process.”
All three who are at East-West have talked to some of the older Gryphons who have gone in the past.
“I’ve talked to a couple,” Ferraro said. “They just gave me the advice to be yourself and do what you can and don’t be nervous.”
“I’ve had a lot of conversations,” Metchie said. “A lot of them say go out there, it’s a good time. It’s a fun time, but just try to be prepared. It’s just a higher tempo. If you think university is a high tempo, it’s a higher tempo where we really have to push ourselves to show what we’ve got. We’ve got to come in condition with a smile on your face.”
“I’ve been talking to some of the older guys that have played and they’ve just been telling me to stay focused, don’t overthink it,” Parisotto said. “It’s not that big of a deal. Just go in and play football. At the end of the day it’s just another game, it’s just another practice. Just be the player that you are and not to stress it.”
The trio are also looking forward to getting some coaching from other Canadian university coaches.
“That’s also one thing I’m looking forward to, just to be coached by other coaches,” Metchie said. “I love learning different things. I love learning different techniques. The more (I learn), the better for me.”
“Getting coaching from the coaches from around the league and just picking up little things and different terminology that they use you can bring back, little subtleties that are from person to person that you can pick up,” Parisotto said. “I’m definitely excited to learn from coach (Dwayne) Cameron who’s the Laurier defensive backs coach.”
The players will go through six practices and the CFL East-West Combine in the days leading up to Saturday afternoon’s East-West Bowl Game.