This month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Orion Edwards: Wildman Award Winner, SAM Mentor and Gryphon Football alumnus.
When I spoke with Orion, I could tell he admired the Gryphon Football Program. He spoke about all the connections he was able to make through playing Football at the University of Guelph. He mentioned that he was introduced to an abundance of interesting Alumni through the program and he believes these Alumni were very good mentors for him throughout his undergraduate degree. This year, he became an alumnus as well. Orion had no shortage of insightful and positive comments about Gryphon Football: “It really helped me become the man I am today. What you learn as a student-athlete goes with you through the rest of your life. Gryphon Football helped me develop as a whole person, not just as an athlete. I received so much support academically and spiritually. As far as school goes, the coaches and support staff really cared about me and my grades. That’s one of the many things that attracted me as a recruit years ago. Now that I’ve graduated, I can say it’s something I still appreciate.”
We also spoke about his time as the leader of the Team’s Chapel and his participation in Athletes in Action. Athletes in Action is an international sports organization focused on helping athletes bring faith and sport together. Orion got involved with Athletes in Action through the Chapel in the Gryphon Football Program. Gryphon Football helped him explore his spirituality and find his way closer to his faith. Orion also spoke about going to Seattle for Athletes in Action: “I’m really excited about the trip! Seattle is an interesting city and I really believe in the message that Athletes in Action is sending to young athletes. I’m going to Seattle to talk to Division 1 athletes about combining faith and sport. We have different experiences but I’m able to speak to Division 1 athletes because of my experience at Guelph. Guelph is a great school that led me to this opportunity and it taught me how to present publicly and how to express my faith among many other things. Because of Athletes in Action and Gryphon Football, I learned a lot of important lessons about working as a team. It really shaped who I am. It’s given me a lot of experience going forward.”
After speaking with Orion, I could tell he was a passionate and intelligent man. I wanted to learn more about him from a different perspective. I wanted to get some more insight into Orion’s character and though that former Gryphon Head Coach, Stu Lang, would be a good person to talk to. When I asked him about Orion, Coach Lang said: “I first knew we were getting a very special person and football player when I had a jerk chicken recruiting dinner with Orion at his home along with his mother and sister. Orion was rekindling his Christian faith and talked about how he wanted to be a role model and leader. He was committed to becoming a person of influence on and off the field. Later, Orion became our Team's Chapel Leader, organizing and promoting our weekly pre-game chapels. He was very open about his faith and was not shy when it came to praying publicly for people in and out of the football program. Overall, Orion always carried a wonderful smile and hearty laugh. His positive attitude shone brightly on our team.”
Orion started out as an OUA All-Rookie and became a CIS Academic All-Canadian. After playing his final season with Gryphon Football, Orion graduated from the University of Guelph as the Wildman Award winner of 2017. The Wildman is an award that honours the traits of sportsmanship, leadership, gentlemanly conduct and excellent academic standing. It is clear that Orion Edwards certainly has these traits.
In closing, Orion added: “I will always be grateful to the Gryphon Football program as I was afforded the opportunity to make great connections and have freedom in my sport. Everyone at Gryphon Football cared about me as an individual, not just a football player, and I will always remember that fondly.”