Strong man on campus

After experimenting with rowing and basketball, Anti Wesley-James has his sights set on the football team

Anti Wesley-James hopes to play football next season.
Anti Wesley-James hopes to play football next season.

Anti Wesley-James is stronger than every player on the football team. But he can’t find a permanent spot on any varsity roster — the second-year student quit rowing team after first year and was cut from the basketball team in second year.

On Saturday, Wesley-James, PheKin ’14, won the football team’s bench press contest after completing 22 repetitions of 225 pounds.

Wesley-James’s bench-press score is particularly impressive because he weighs about 210 pounds. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mason Foster — who led NFL rookies in tackles this season — also scored 22 on the bench press, but weighs 245 pounds.

But Wesley-James, who works out six times a week, said he could have done better.

“The most I’ve ever repped 225 is 28 times, [but] over Reading Week, I was lifting and I actually tore my deltoid,” he said. “I guess I was pleased to win the competition, but at the same time, it’s not a personal best.”

Wesley-James credits his strength to eating the required amount of food. He’s famous at Ban Righ cafeteria for the Anti Special — a Golden Gael burger with tomatoes, no bun and no sauce. Wesley-James said he ate about 10 Anti Specials per day in first year.

“I had the freedom plan,” he said. “No flex, no meal plan equivalencies, none of that, but I could access the caf as many times as I wanted.”

Wesley-James started lifting weights in Grade 9. Having played basketball since Grade 4, he started playing football and rowing in Grade 10 at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute. In Grade 11, he did off-season workouts with the Guelph Gryphons varsity football team. Wesley-James spent his final two years of high school as the captain of the football team.

When he was 18, Wesley-James was rowing with 25-year-olds. In his extra year of high school, he was in talks with U.S. schools like Northeastern University and the University of Washington. But he decided on Queen’s — both his father and his brother had rowed varsity as Gaels.

Wesley-James joined the Queen’s rowing team in August 2010, but he barely lasted the season. He suffers from a knee condition that gives him soreness from repeated motion, like rowing. He had surgery on both knees in his extra year of high school.

“[My knees] were good at the start, but as the season progressed, then with the cold weather, I got more and more sore,” he said, adding that he thought he’d quit at the start of October.

Wesley-James quit varsity rowing after the season to pursue his long-term goal of playing university basketball. But he was cut from the team in September 2011.

“I’m not a fantastic shooter and they were looking for a shooter,” he said. “I gave basketball a pretty serious shot and it didn’t work out.”

A few days after getting cut, he emailed football head coach Pat Sheahan about trying to join the football team and started indoor training with the team in January.

Wesley-James said he hopes to be a linebacker or a defensive lineman, but believes his odds of seeing playing time could be small, considering there are already players slotted for those positions.

“If I could play special teams, I would be happy with that outcome for an initial go-around,” he said.

Wesley-James said his overall athletic experience at Queen’s hasn’t gone as anticipated.

“The dream was to row and play basketball,” he said. “Rowing, due to knees, didn’t work out and basketball didn’t work out due to skill reasons, but I’ve moved on ... With football, I’ve demonstrated a commitment.

“I have a lot of experience dealing with adversity now so maybe I’m a mentally tougher person because of that.”

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