By CLAUDE SCILLEY
There were some anxious moments in the Latimer household this spring. His heart set on coming to Queen’s and playing football for the Golden Gaels, Brodie Latimer waited to hear whether the university had anything similar in mind for him.
As his Sydenham High School classmates received their letters of acceptance from post-secondary institutions, Latimer kept waiting.
In late May, the news arrived—and it was good.
“It was a huge relief,” Latimer said Saturday, after he was introduced at a special event held on campus for newcomers to the Queen’s football program. “After everything I’d gone through it was the icing on top of the cake.”
Latimer knew it was his marks that were keeping his file in the wait-and-see basket in the admissions office. “I had a tough semester,” he said, “a tough year with some family issues, so it was kind of hard to keep my grades on top.
“Near the end I got them up.”
Latimer was thrilled. “I had a lot of family members go here,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to carry on the family tradition.”
Though he’d applied to Western and Guelph as well, he was hoping not to have to settle. He’d developed a better rapport, he said, with the coaches from Queen’s. “They were more responsive.”
Gaels coach Pat Sheahan said he’s pleased to have Latimer in the fold.
“The impact of the whole recruiting culture now seems that its sometimes as big a decision to stay at home and go to school than it is to go somewhere else.”
Part of that, he believes, is the unique pressure an athlete faces in trying out for his hometown team.
“If you’re from Calgary and you’re not an instant sensation, you don’t have all your friends and neighbours watching you and asking you why you’re not playing,” Sheahan said. “There’s pressure on the local athletes; they’re all anxious to make a big splash and sometimes you have to be patient.
“Brodie is a tough-minded guy. He’s a physically tough guy, and he’s decided that he’s going to take that challenge of being a local athlete competing with kids who come from coast to coast.”
Latimer was the tailback on a Sydenham team that was undefeated last year.
“It was an exciting one, for sure,” he said of the season. “It was nice to be able to do something for Sydenham that hadn’t been done before. An undefeated season and winning the National Capital Bowl was quite awesome.”
Sheahan had good things to say about that Sydenham team, and Latimer in particular.
“They were a scrappy bunch and he (personified) that,” Sheahan said. “A lot of his runs were straight ahead stuff, not pretty stuff, but he has good speed.”
Though Latimer, 5-11 and 195 pounds, hopes to be an intercollegiate running back, that speed—he was also a champion hurdler at Sydenham—could open other doors for him.
“I’m not worried about his size (at running back),” Sheahan said. “He’ll be fine at his size. He may need to put on a couple of pounds but we’ll see what happens. The fact that he’s fast means that we’re going to evaluate his skills.
“Guys who are fast can make some plays if they know what they’re doing.”
Latimer said he’s had university football in his sights since Grade 9.
“Ever since I was a freshman in high school I’ve wanted to accomplish something like that,” he said.
“I just want to see how I fare against the competition; play my game, and see what I can do.”
Latimer was among eight newcomers who formally signed their letters of intent Saturday to play football at Queen’s in the fall.
Among them are a number of interesting pairs.
• Two transfers: defensive lineman Allen Champagne, who comes to grad school at Queen’s from Montreal, via Upper Canada College and the University of North Carolina, where he played three years; and quarterback Matt Duffy, who spent his freshman university season in the program of the Carleton Ravens.
• Two legacies: Champagne, whose brother, Philippe, was a linebacker with the Gaels a dozen seasons ago, and running back Joey McKiernan of Kanata, whose uncle, John Thelen, was a fullback with the Gaels in the mid-nineties and whose grandfather, Dave Thelen, played for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the CFL.
• Two former members of the Ontario Varsity Football League’s perennial powerhouse Ottawa Myers Riders: Duffy and McKiernan.
• Two players from Quebec who both prepped at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.: tight end John Bews of Pointe-Claire and offensive lineman Etienne Bergeron of Lachine.
• Two other players who have no apparent connection: wide receiver Rudy Uhl of North Vancouver, a Canadian Junior Football League all-star with the Kamloops Broncos, and defensive back Kurtis Schaefer of Stittsville.