Bringing in the Hometown Boys

Sheahan unveils the Kingston portion of the 2010 rookie class

Football head coach Pat Sheahan is surrounded by the 2010 local recruiting class at the Queen’s Centre during their introduction to the media.
Football head coach Pat Sheahan is surrounded by the 2010 local recruiting class at the Queen’s Centre during their introduction to the media.

For every losing team there is “always next year”, yet for a championship team that next year is usually anything but a blessing.

At Queen’s the many heroes of the 2009 Vanier Cup team are gone. The 2010 season for the Gaels will be a hunt of the next Brannagan, Allin and Williams. It may be a struggle at times; with glory fresh in our mind, to see interceptions thrown and kickoffs fumbled, but that is the nature of the university game.

The player transitions are just as much a part of the collegiate sport as punting; every four or five years a team must go through a rebirth, a rebirth wholly decided by the strength of player recruitment.

On Friday, July 9th head coach Pat Sheahan held a press conference to introduce five local additions to the Gaels program. In his introductions, Sheahan commented on the nature of recruiting.

“Recruiting is like running your own business, all year long,” he said. “It’s all the time and it never stops. Everyone on our staff does something, it is a massive undertaking to find who qualifies, and everything you do is recruiting.”

Five out of the seven Kingstonian recruits were present: Trent Whitton, Aaron Gazendam, John Sullivan, Aaron Dowd and Joel Coffee. Choosing a university can be a big for any individual, but Sheahan said the situation can be particularly intense with local players.

“We all understand what the pressure is on the local athletes. Some feel to achieve the full university experience you have to leave. We want these gentlemen not to overlook [Queen’s] because it is in their backyard,” he said. “Robb Bagg got to enjoy being a celebrity in his own home, and my hope is that each of these young men reaches their full potential.”

Although these players may not make an immediate impact this season, Coach Sheahan spoke of each player briefly with open enthusiasm. He began with Trent Whitton, a wide receiver from Frontenac Secondary School.

“Trent was an outstanding receiver for the Frontenac Falcons,” he said. “His group has had a tremendous run for last four years; he has a couple of championships to his name and will hopefully become a serious deep threat on our offense.” Aaron Gazendam was a key receiver on a championship Holy Cross team this past season and can also kick. He began speaking to Queen’s in grade nine, and coupled with Whitton, Sheahan said the two players could present a dynamic offensive combination.

“Aaron along with Trent could be a great catch for us,” he said. “Aaron standing 6’5’’, Trent standing 6’2’’, both of those players can be great contributors on offense and we feel the style of offense that we play will be very comfortable for them to flourish” John Sullivan, Holy Cross’ quarterback, will also be joining the Gaels next season.

“John had an outstanding senior year, fine athlete,” said Sheahan. “He sort of just blossomed at his position and did a fine job leading his team.” Aaron Dowd was a member of the LaSalle high school program and brings with him exceptional versatility.

“[We have] a great all around athlete with Aaron Dowd, he has played running back, slot back and he has said he will play anywhere we need him, anywhere he can find a seat on the bus,” Sheahan said.

Joel Coffee, a teammate of Whitton’s had a less of an exciting year than his peers due to injury.

“Unfortunately [Joel] had to deal with the darker side of football this past season,” Sheahan said. “He got injured. He is recovering from a knee surgery so hopefully he will be 100% recovered and will be in there scrapping by the end of the summer.” Young and bright eyed each of these players not only needs to adjust to coach Sheahan’s regimens but also to begin dealing with university life, although never too far from home. Each player expressed excitement for the coming year and the future of playing in front of their hometown.

“I’m just looking forward to getting started; training camp isn’t a long way off. It’s been a long process and I’m just excited to get started with it all,” Gazendam said.

The two recruits not present at the event are Cory Dyer from Gananoque and Patrick Kelley from Trinity College School in Port Hope.

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