Brandon’s Chris Bauman will be part of CFL history this weekend.
The 28-year-old Calgary Stampeders receiver is preparing for the biggest game of his career when the Stampeders face the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre in Toronto in the 100th Grey Cup game.
"It’s exciting," Bauman said this week. "Back in 2007, I came in and participated as a fan, so that was a cool experience. But this is totally different now, actually being in the Grey Cup game. You just want to enjoy the moment … It’s been a long road and some ups and downs, but this is definitely the icing on the cake."
There is always plenty of hoopla surrounding Grey Cup week, but the fanfare has been taken to a new level this year, particularly with the hometown Argos in the CFL’s championship game and no NHL hockey to share the spotlight. As always, dealing with the distractions and focusing on the task at hand is critical.
"I don’t know if you could actually avoid it, it’s pretty much everywhere," said Bauman, whose parents Dave and Diane are coming in from Brandon while his fiancée Katie has flown in from Calgary for the big game. "But I think it’s just trying to minimize the distractions as much as you can and remember that you are here for a reason. It’s a little bit tougher with everything that is going on … I think you just have to keep the distractions to a minimum and keep the focus on the actual game and I think you will be fine."
The pride of Brandon’s Vincent Massey Vikings, Bauman will try to become the first former Brandon high school football player to win the Grey Cup since Craig Hendrickson, an ex-Neelin Spartans standout who earned his ring in 2000 with the B.C. Lions when they beat the Montreal Alouettes 28-26 in the Cup finale in Calgary.
While final lineups for Sunday’s game have yet to be announced, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Bauman hopes to have a chance to contribute, although he has played a limited role as the season has progressed. Bauman, who was in the lineup but held without a catch in the Stampeders’ two playoff victories, finished the regular season with 16 receptions for 212 yards and one touchdown. Bauman’s season highlight came on July 19 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders when he hauled in seven passes for 86 yards, but suffered a strained calf a couple of weeks later and was inactive for more than a month. Since returning to the lineup, he has been limited to backup duty.
"Coming out of camp, I got the job and started well and I thought this was going to be a big year," said Bauman, the first overall pick in the 2007 CFL draft who is now in his sixth season. "And then I ran into some calf injuries and it took me awhile to get over those and once I came back, the (Stamps’ Canadian/import) ratio had changed, we were going with four American receivers and only one Canadian, so I was the odd man out …
"I’m still enjoying it, (but) it’s been frustrating. Obviously you want to be on the field helping the team out."
But when it comes to the Grey Cup, it’s team-first, and Bauman just wants to do whatever he can to help. Whether it’s special teams, serving as a backup or running the scout offence in practice, Bauman just wants to contribute and get a chance to hoist Lord Earl Grey’s silver mug on Sunday night.
"Exactly. It’s just time to do what I can and try to be ready if there is an injury or whatever there is and just try to keep my hands in it," he said. "… I am happy to be here and doing whatever I need to do to help this team win."
ODDS AND ENDS: Brandon’s Cassie Hawrysh is back in action today on the World Cup skeleton tour in Whistler, B.C., after finishing fourth and 11th in her first two races. Russell’s Jon Montgomery is also back to the site of his dramatic 2010 Olympic gold medal performance and will race on Saturday … Not surprisingly, University of North Dakota women’s hockey coach Brian Idalski couldn’t hide his excitement after successfully recruiting Canadian U-18 team defenceman Halli Krzyzaniak of Neepawa. "Very excited to have her and she is probably one of the best defensive recruits we have ever gotten," Idalski stated … If you can’t make it to the game in person, tonight’s Brandon Wheat Kings battle with the Prince Albert Raiders will be shown on Shaw Cable and WCG-TV at 7:30 … Angelica Quiring of the Calgary Dinos returns home this week to face the Brandon University Bobcats in Canada West women’s volleyball action (Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m.). Quiring was a member of the 2009 Crocus Plainsmen, the last Brandon team to win the provincial AAAA girls high school volleyball title. Interestingly, her younger sister Alison Quiring is a member of the Neelin Spartans girls’ squad that will try to capture this year’s title on Monday at the University of Winnipeg’s Duckworth Centre. For those who can’t make the trip, that game is scheduled to be broadcast by Shaw and carried live on WCG-TV at 6 p.m. … The league-leading Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings will put their remarkable 13-game winning streak on the line tonight in Rivers when they face the Yellowhead Chiefs at 7:30 … The Brandon Ringette Association will host its annual 10-team tournament Saturday and Sunday at the Kinsmen Arena.