Saturday, November 28, 2009


We did it! The Queen's Gaels are the 2009 Vanier Cup champions. It still hasn't sunk in almost three hours later. The guys came back after a tough first half.

This team knows how to win and as I said all week - the were all business. They got it done.

It was a surreal scene on the grounds. Lots of hugs, tears and happy cheers! Everyone was hugging everyone - just enjoying the moment. I'm not a Queen's alumni but today I feel a part of the family. It was the biggest game since '92 and it was really special to be a part of it.

I have to head out - and start the trek home - but I'll compose more of my thoughts at a later time.

Live Blog - courtesy CIS Blog

Countdown is on!

10:30 -- just an hour and a half away.  It's great the big game is here.

Team is LOOSE! and ready to get it done.  They are focused and I don't sense any jitters.    The guys had an early night after meeting parents.

The atmosphere is electric here in Quebec City.  Lots and lots and lots of alumni and Queen's fans starting to flood in.  Last night I had an opportunity to meet a few of the 1983 Gaels.  Nice group of guys.  What surprised me even more - was they were looking for me.

They had a special package.  It was an envelop of greetings from the '83 team wishing the Gaels well.   They also had a Queen's flag - which was signed by about 200 hundred people.  I've hung it just outside the Gaels dressing room and the guys are loving the support they are getting from our fans!

The bar I went to last night had a lot of Gaels fans in it - and there were several spontaneous 'Oil Thigh' renditions and Go Gaels Go chants.  I think Queen's has won over the Quebec fans - we'll see at game time.

I have to do some work - but I'll post short bits during the game if anything of note occurs.

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information

Friday, November 27, 2009

One Sleep Away

Gaels fans - we are just one sleep away from the biggest game Queen's has played in since 1992!    Excitement is in the air as more and more Queen's fans start to arrive in Quebec City.

This morning the team got some much needed shuteye and the wake up call didn't come until 9:30am.  Pat and his crew attended the Coach of the Year festivites which was held at another hotel.

The team had a short work day - a bunch of meetings in the morning and then of course the usual pregame walk through which was held from 3:30 - 4:30pm  The walk through was held in the rain, but it didn't seem to bother the team that much.  They are in business mode right now and they know what needs to get done.

The one thing that has amazed me about this team since we started the playoffs four weeks ago is how incredibly loose they are.  This team has a quiet confidence about them.  While they are focused on the end goal and they are in business mode ... you get a sense that they are treating this like any other week.   Pat and the coaching staff have kept a pretty tight schedule all week.  Pat has also done an excellent job at ensuring the team keeps to a routine as much as possible. 

Now having said this - I'm sure there are some on the team who are nervous about tomorrow - how can there not be?  Regardless, this is a veteran team with a lot of seniors graduating. These guys know it's there last university football game tomorrow and they are determined to leave everything on the field.

A few other tidbits from today which deserve mentioning:
  • Danny Brannagan was stopped in a Quebec restaurant at dinner with a child asking for his autographer.  Danny, one of the nicest athletes I've had a privilege of working (having worked in professional golf and skiing), took time to talk with the kid to make him special - regardless of the result tomorrow - Danny can say he's #1 in class!
  • Upon return from supper - the hotel we are staying at, brought around a special desert for each player - delivered right to the door. - Classy!
  • Rod Black and Duane Forde arrived today and spoke with a number of players in preparation for tomorrow's game - Danny, Shomari, Jimmy Allin and Scott Valberg
  • We've been posting photos all week - documentary style... if you haven't seen them check them out at :
A parents reception is about to start in a few minutes.  I'm going to head over to check it out.

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information

All Canadian!!!!

Four Gaels walked away with first team All-Canadian honours tonight at the CIS All-Canadian Banquet - Jimmy Allin, Scott Valberg, Osie Ukwuoma and Matt O'Donnell.

The guys were introduced in what was a glamorous entrance coming through the centre of the banquet hall - up a small stage in the middle of the hall - then up to the larger stage in front.  Each was given a certificate from Jostens and a very nifty Roots watch with  the CIS engraved on the face. 

TJ Leeper was up against a few outstanding candidates for the  Russ Jackson Award, but Thomas Hall from Manitoba earned the award.   The Russ Jackson Award is given annually to a player for combining academics, athletics and citizenship. 

Although TJ is an outstanding candidate for this award I was impressed by Hall's credentials at only 19 years of age.  Here's an except from the Canadian Press story:
University of Manitoba linebacker Thomas Hall won the Russ Jackson Award for combining academics, athletics and citizenship.

This season the six-foot-three, 223-pounder led his team with 38.5 tackles, ran an interception back for a touchdown and forced two fumbles for the Bisons.

Hall was an academic all-Canadian in 2008-09 when he earned a 4.00 grade point average in the classroom.
He volunteers for several community organizations and raised $25,000 for a charity that fights breast cancer with his siblings after their mother was diagnosed with the disease.
Russ Jackson was on hand to personally present this award to Hall and Hall twice got a standing ovation.  I don't know Hall at all - but he seems like a tremendous person. 

What I found particularly interesting - was this award clearly seemed like the biggest award.  It was given second last (before the Hec), but Hall got a standing ovation twice.  It was clear the football community embraces this type of award and lends prestige to an award that combines athletics, community and academics. 

I didn't have a chance to speak with TJ after the reception, but having been around him in the past I know he would consider himself lucky to be among the four canidates. 

The Hec Crighton Award was given to Calgary's Erik Glavic (his second in three seasons).  He gave a nice speech in both languages which got cheers from the crowd.  Michael Faulds (Western) was unable to make the trip to represent the OUA due to his injury.  I received a message a few days ago letting me know he wouldn't make the trip because he elected to have surgery and is unable to travel great distance - even by plane.

The entire banquet is a ritzy affair - complete with a giant size screen to show live video and head shots of award recipients.  It was a classy effort, organized well and seemed to run smoothly.  I talked to Scott Valberg following the event and he said it was "good" but similar to other banquets he's attended in the past.

The football community was out in full force - Almost every (if not all) coach in the CIS were present.  Other notibles included Duane Forde, Rod Black, Russ Jackson, Bryan Crawford (Present Argo and OUA staff member) several Athletic Directors including  Queen's Leslie Dal Cin.

Following the Banquet - I had an opportunity to speak with Ward Dilse (OUA) while we walked back to the host hotel.  Ward and I discussed the upcoming OUA Communication Committee meeting scheduled in December as well as the positive media coverage the OUA experienced this year.  

Ward, Bryan Crawford and Drew Soleyn quickly took a stroll through the Tailgate Party area in front of the hotel.  It's literally a full city block of different types of exhibits and such.  The area was complete with a JUMBOTRON - showing the NFL football games from today.  Not many people were in attendance when we walked through - but it is only Thursday and more things are  suppose to happen on Friday night

For those watching the photo gallery - I uploaded a bunch of new photos taken over the course of today.  Nothing from the banquet yet as our photographer (Greg Black) on site is still processing the many images. - check them out here...

The Gaels get a sleep in day tomorrow - but I'll look to post again sometime in the morning and then post practice - We're only sleeps away!

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Practice Two

Well - things never go as planned and trying to get a blog post up during practice didn't happen.  I'll write quickly because the All-Canadian Banquet is starting at 6:30pm and we are set to leave at 6:15pm. (Yes I still need to get dressed...).

Practice today was good.  The players were greeted to some sun, but mostly cloudy weather with the temperature hovering around six degrees.  It was much nicer conditions to practice in than on Wednesday.

The media contingent is really starting to roll in.  TSN's John Lu was onsite and he wanted to speak to Danny and Shomari.  Shomari also got additional attention from theScore.   Osie, Matt Vickers and Scott Valberg each had a newspaper requests.  Nick Sirski and Frank Pankewich also were interviewed via my cell phone to their local news papers back home.

It's nice to see several members of the team getting media requests of late.  Danny has received a lot of attention this season (and deservedly so), but it's a treat to work with some of the other players who don't always get the media attention they sometimes deserve.

Next up is the All-Canadian Banquet.  The Gaels are headed over as a group 6:15.  Some of the players who haven't been to the gala dinner are asking the veteran guys what they can expect.  This will be my first appearance there and I'm told Laval is planning a decent evening.

I'll report more of the evenings highights when I return.  The big question on everyone's minds will be - who is the Hec Crighton award recipient this evening.  We'll know in a few hours.   Michael Faulds (Western), Erik Glavic (Calgary)   Gary Ross (Mount Allison) and Benoit Groulx (Laval) are all up for the award.

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information

First Practice in Quebec

The Gaels had practice yesterday starting at 4:30pm.  We arrived around 3:30pm for taping and such. 

The weather on the field was windy - WOW was it windy; but the guys didn't seem to notice too much.  Of course with the wind it  was bitterly cold.  The guys bundled up as best they could and it appeared to be  a first productive day for the Gaels on the field.

Backup QB Justin Chapdelaine  got some media attention after practice.  You may recall Justin is the son of former Laval Head Coach - Jacques Chapdelaine.  Jacques is also an offensive coordinator for the BC Lions.  Justin told me that he remembers as a little boy running around the facility where the Gaels locker rooms are this week.  He wasn't very old at the time - but he has spent some time in PEPS - so he feels at home.

Speaking of PEPS Stadium, I got my first look yesterday.  It's a 3/4 Bowl with an upper deck on the East Side which was installed specifically for the next two Vanier Cups (as told by Michel Belanger at the CIS).   The field turf is fabulous and it is very simlar to Tindall Field on campus at Queen's.  Good news for Gaels fans - Queen's has held a number of practices on Tindall Field over the last few weeks - so hopefully this will be helpful come Saturday.

Laval has brought in temporary lighting for practice times this week - We were out on the field at 4:30pm and it was already very dark here in Quebec City.  It was overcast, but by the time Calgary got off the field last night - it was almost fully dark. 

Following practice - the Gaels headed over to Boston Pizza for dinner and then called it a night.

For the most part our team is pretty relaxed which I think is a good thing heading into a busy Thursday.

Today - we head back to PEPS for a 1:30pm practice time.   Calgary, as told by my counterpart
 Ben Matchett, will practice indoors today.

Currently the Gaels are in  meetings discussing strategy.

I hope to post again during practice and then following the All-Canadian and Major Awards Banquet scheduled for this evening.  It's going to be a busy day for the team.... scratch that - a long busy day for the team.  

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Media Conference

We got our first look at some of Calgary's players today during the Media Conference.  The Host Committee did a great job in organizing a professionally run media availability. 

Players representing Queen's were Shomari Williams (Mitchell Bowl MVP), Danny Brannagan, Osie Ukuwoma and Jimmy Therrien.

On Calgary's side Erik Glavic, Andrea Bonaventura, Matt Walter and Steve Lumballa represented the Dinos.

Jimmy T and Pat received much of the media attention during the conference with both having links to Quebec.  The CIS officials organized a great photo opportunity between the two QB's Glavic and Brannagan.  

The event is receiving good coverage in local media.  RadioCanada has conducted quite a few interviews and TVA is also onsite.   LeSoil is also covering the event.

The Kingston Whig Standard - Mike Koreen arrived today and was also on site.  I'm sure Mike will be offering Kingston readers a glimpse into the proceedings as well.

Calgary practiced first today and they quickly hustled out the door after the proceedings which took about 20 minutes plus another 35 for interviews.  Pat conducted his last interview around 2:00pm

Practice is in a few hours   I have a couple things to prepare in terms of helping (IU Assistant Manager) Drew Soleyn out over the afternoon - but I hope to post during or after practice tonight.

Michael Grobe - Communications & Sports Information Officer

And so it begins...

The Gaels have a full schedule of activities today with preparation meetings scheduled this morning and then a 1:00pm media conference. In the afternoon, Queen's will hit the practice field for the first time in Quebec - and see PEPS Stadium up close and personal.

Tommy (Equipment Manager) has already taken his crew along with Dave Ross (Head Trainer) to the stadium to get ready for this afternoon's practice and do some laundry from yesterday's practice in Kingston.

Everyone in Quebec has been very helpful and from my point of view the Host Committee seems to have everything well planned on site. We are hearing that they have organized a huge Tailgate Party and will be shutting down a major street close to "Old Quebec City" on Thursday/Friday. This should be quite an experience - people from across the country rave about the "Laval" tailgate experience and we saw a glimpse of it last week at Richardson Stadium.

I'm about to start my preparation for today's media conference - I'll check in later today with more updates and highlights from the conference.

- Michael Grobe (Communications & Sports Information)

We're Here

The Gaels have arrived in Quebec!!! The bus unloaded at 10:30pm. Everyone was ready for some shuteye after a long trip to the host venue.

No rest for the coaching staff - they started work on setting up equipment as soon as they could to prepare for tomorrow's preparation meetings with the team.

Wednesday the CIS will host a Media Conference which is set for 1:00pm. Danny Brannagan, Shomari Williams and Jimmy Therrien will be in attendance along with Head Coach Pat Sheahan to take questions from media covering the event.

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vanier Bound!!!

NOVEMBER 24, 2009 - Travel Day

Travel day for the Gaels! The team bus loads at approximately 3:00pm departing from Richardson Stadium. That is the start of a what we all hope is a magical week for the Gaels in their quest for the Vanier Cup.

The football team has already been hard at work preparing for this weekend's game against Calgary. Preparation started early Sunday morning just hours after an exciting win over the Laval Rouge et Or. It's only Tuesday - but I'm sure the coaching staff has or is well on their way of having a great game plan against the Dinos.

For myself and colleague Drew Soleyn (IU Assistant Manager), our journey to Quebec City started at 12:00pm today. We boarded a train in Kingston and we are currently making our way to the host city to ensure that no major hiccups occur prior to their arrival. (I'm sure everyone has their own travel nightmares to speak of ... we want to eliminate that for the team if possible).

I've been asked by my counterparts at Athletics & Recreation to keep a blog of my trip. Perhaps share some insight on the happenings of what takes place at the Vanier Cup. I'm sure I will be able to share some tidbits of information of the events and the atmosphere in Quebec City. So check back often and I'll try to post as much as I can - I promise at least one post a day with potential for more!

Go Gaels Go!!!

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information
Queen's University

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