Makin' Calgary Smile
Gridiron dreams can come true. Just ask Steve Myddelton.
The 23-year-old former Barrie Central Collegiate student was selected by the Calgary Stampeders in the fourth round of the May 2009 CFL draft, 30th overall.
Last year, he played with the Stamps' practice squad and learned the ropes, finishing the season on the injury reserve list.
But this year, the 297-pounder is a starter, playing right guard on the offensive line.
His first game was in front of the hometown crowd at McMahon Stadium in Calgary -- with the Stampeders winning the contest 30-16 -- and was the culmination of years of hard work.
"One game in, so far so good," the Barrie native said, prior to the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats game at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Stamps took that one too, winning 23-22 after rookie kicker Rob Maver's 23-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the game With the win, the Stamps' record improved to 2-0.
That first matchup in Calgary saw Myddelton on Cloud Nine.
"I was pretty fired up for the game. Being with the team on the field was amazing," he said. "Calgary loves their football and the crowd is fantastic."
It was a memory in the making for the big man.
"Wanting to play in the CFL as a young guy, it was pretty cool," he said.
"There are still lots of things to work on, but the coaches were happy. The most important thing is, we won."
It's a long way from playing on Barrie Central's Red Storey Field.
Central football coach Ed Leach, who has since retired, watched Myddelton mature into potential CFL material and remembers thinking he had what it took to be a professional football player.
After playing for one year at Eastview, Myddelton transferred to Central and played on the senior football team as well as the Phoenix rugby team. He was even named to Team Canada's under-19 rugby team.
But his heart was in football. "He was a big man and played
defensive and offensive lines. Because of his athleticism, we played him in the backfield for a bit," Leach said. "For a big man, well over six feet, he was very quick and he was knowledgeable about the game."
Myddelton "had the package," Leach added.
"He had size and speed and he was also bright enough to be a success at university," he said. "He had goals he wanted to work towards. It's wonderful to see a man succeed at that level the way Steve has."
Myddelton said Leach was an inspiration.
"He's why I'm where I am today. I got a good feel for (and love of) the game," he said.
After attending an open evaluation camp at St. Francis Xavier University, X-Men coaches gave him a shot. During his four-year university career, he was named the school's male athlete of the year, was a two-time Atlantic University Sport all-star, and was an all-Canadian first team all-star.
Now he's part of the Stampeders and couldn't be happier.
"There's nothing but good things to say about them," he said. "It's nice being part of such a professional organization and the way they run things."
Being one of the youngest member of team isn't a problem, he said.
"They don't get much younger than I am," he laughed, especially when he's playing next to the likes of fellow offensive lineman Dan Comiskey, 38, a two-time CFL west division all-star who has been to the Grey Cup four times.
"There is that vet respect but you don't think about it," he added.
Myddelton's off-season training has included strength conditioning to get leaner.
"There have been a lot of weight-room sessions, strong man stuff like pushing cars and working with a huge tractor tire -- a lot of upper body stuff," he said.
"I changed some things in my diet and I feel great. Certainly the best I've been prepared coming into a football season."
His mother, Judy, and almost 40 other supporters, took in the Stampeders and Toronto Argos game Wednesday night.
"We're all wearing red T-shirts with Stampeders on the front and Myddelton No. 59 on the back," she said, just prior to walking into the Rogers Centre.