Every team needs some unsung heroes. Guys who contribute but don’t get a lot of recognition. Players who make the team better in ways only team insiders notice. They don’t get any “ink”. Rarely ever a mention in a blog post. But they are key to a good team, at least one that has a positive atmosphere and a “team before self” attitude.
On Sunday, at the conclusion of spring practice, the team had a team dinner. CFL great Chuck Ealey was the guest speaker. Players on the team had all previously voted for the player they thought “contributed the most to the team with the least recognition”. The players voted for an under-sized, freshmen, walk-on offensive lineman – Zachary Bader-Shamai. You’ve got to know that for an unheralded newcomer to the team to win the respect of so many teammates he has to be something special.
Bader-Shamai is certainly not a player without talent. He comes from a good high school program at North Toronto Collegiate. And he was the 2011 Lineman of the Year for the OVFL’s Metro Toronto Wildcats. He has a high football IQ and the good footwork that coaches look for in an o-lineman. But lots of players have those things. The best explanation of what makes him special comes from OL Coach Mike MacDonald:
[He] works his butt off, total team guy. Will do anything he is asked to do. Quality person who always thinks of the team first. Plays through injuries, never misses a workout, practice or team function … His teammates love him, plain and simple and so do I.
Honestly, I didn’t even know Bader-Shamai was a member of the Gryphon program until he won a Scout Team Player of the Week award back in October. But I think our program is better off for having him.
Would it surprise any of you who know our Head Coach, that Stu Lang won an Unsung Hero award in his rookie season with the Edmonton Eskimos? That was 1975 I believe.