Dan Village wanted to be a soccer player. But when he broke his leg and was cut from his high school soccer team, Village pursued a football career that’s seen him break 14 Queen’s records. He became the Gaels all-time field goal leader during Saturday’s 13-6 win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues with his 48th field goal.
“I tried out [for football] more for a joke,” Village said.
He joined the junior football team at W.J. Mouat Secondary School in Abbotsford, B.C. when he was in Grade 10 in 2002. After only two practices with the junior squad, he was bumped to the senior team and won a provincial championship. Former Montreal Alouettes kicker Don Sweet, who lived a block away from Village in Abbotsford, began coaching the younger athlete soon after the title.
After high school, Village chose Queen’s where Gaels kicker Ryan Elger was playing in his last year of eligibility.
“I actually thought I would start in first year,” he said.
Village got his first start in 2007 after a year on the Gaels’ practice squad. In his first season as a starter, Village set the record for both kickoff yards and touchdown conversions in October 2008. During the Gaels’ Vanier Cup-winning 2009 season, Village made 12 of 13 field goals, setting a Queen’s record for the highest completion percentage in a season. In 2010, he became the Queen’s all-time leading scorer.
Despite the accolades, Village said he’s not obnoxious in the locker room.
“I’m not so much the rah-rah type where I’ll scream,” he said. “I’m a quiet leader.”
Head coach Pat Sheahan said he promised Village would break records when the kicker started with Queen’s. He said Village’s experience will be crucial in high-pressure games as playoffs approach.
“When you smash a punt, it’s an act of dominance,” he said. “Teams with experienced players at kicker are advantaged … I’m counting on [Village] to really step up and perform like a veteran player down the stretch.”
Including kickers in a team dynamic can be a challenge, but Sheahan said Village has always been one of the guys.
“The role of the kicker … can be quite isolating and lonely,” he said. “Dan, from the moment he got here, has tried to integrate into the team.”
Sheahan said Village could potentially pursue a professional career after he graduates.
“You never know with professional football,” he said. “Sometimes, you just got to keep yourself in shape … and then a need comes up and then you’re the best one available.”
Over the past two summers, Village attended tryouts with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders. Village received positive feedback on his technique, but scouting reps said the kicker needs to add the muscle to add 10 yards to his kickoffs.
“[Village] needs to finish up with another great year and then decide for himself whether he wants to chase that professional opportunity,” Sheahan said. “He’s got some great credentials for a long and successful career in sport, in recreation and in teaching.”
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