The Touchdown Dinner on April 28 and the CFL Draft were two of the most highly visible elements of the busy spring that has been unfolding in the world of the Gee-Gees football program as the team prepares for its 2018 season. Many other developments have taken place, both on campus and off with strong collaboration between the program alumni and its high-performance staff.
The 2018 Touchdown Dinner in collaboration with and support from the 1881 Gee-Gees Football Alumni Association was held at the beautifully renovated National Arts Centre and brought together 375 alumni, players, staff, and supporters. Keynote speaker Tom Clements highlighted an evening which also saw five new members inducted into the Gee-Gees Football Hall of Fame. The inductee speeches for Steve Alexandre, Marcel Bellefeuille, Al Moffat, Josh Sacobie, and the 1965 Team are available on YouTube.
The 1881 Gee-Gees Football Alumni Association played a key role in the success of the Touchdown Dinner and has formed a strong voice in its first year of operations. Under the leadership of Neil Lumsden and the Board of Directors, the opportunities for continued growth are evident.
All 68 Gee-Gees Football Hall of Fame members now have their names on an impressive new installation at Gee-Gees Field. "Gee-Gees Hall" was completed in April and includes a timeline of significant events in the program's history, plaques for all award winners and All-Canadians, and all alumni who have gone on to play in the CFL. The plaques are located outside the coaches' offices and are the first thing a recruit will typically see on a visit to the facilities.
The work was completed as a gift to the program by Brofort Inc. and also included a visual revamp of the team locker room which is now decorated with murals of photos and three-dimensional Gee-Gees Pride installations.
"This is a really well-done project that our players appreciate," says head coach Jamie Barresi. "I invite everyone to come down and see the work that's been done because it's very impactful."
Many of Ottawa's top high school football players had the chance to walk through the locker room and see Gee-Gees Hall when uOttawa hosted the Ottawa High School Football Awards Luncheon to kick off May. Hall of Famer Kevin Kelly was an event organizer and will continue to work with the program to forward OHSF activities.
The team is happy to welcome back Sean Hall to the coaching staff. Hall was on the field during spring camp, working with Aaron Geisler and the receiving corps as an offensive assistant. Hall, a Gee-Gees all-star at defensive back, was previously a member of the coaching staff from to 2001-2011 including time as defensive coordinator.
Draft night saw defensive back Jackson Bennett selected eleventh overall by Hamilton and linebacker Khadim Mbaye drafted by his hometown Alouettes in the seventh round. Days later, running back Bryce Vieira signed with Saskatchewan. Those three will join their 2017 team mates Lewis Ward (kicker/Ottawa Redblacks) and Ty Cranston (defensive back/Montreal Alouettes) in CFL camps this season.
Three Gee-Gees took part in the annual East-West Bowl last week, with receiver Kalem Beaver posting the top 40-yard dash time of all the prospects. In the game, Beaver tallied a 51-yard punt return, as well as had one reception for 13 yards, and a tackle. Jamie Harry completed four tackles, finishing third overall on the team, and broke up one pass. Cody Cranston finished the day with two tackles.
The Gee-Gees held spring camp and are looking forward to beginning the 2018 OUA Football Regular Season on August 25 at Laurier. The full schedule is below.
2018 Gee-Gees Football Schedule:
Aug. 26 at Laurier
Sept. 2 vs. McMaster (Home Opener)
Sept. 8 vs. Guelph
Sept. 22 vs. York
Sept. 29 at Carleton (Panda Game)
Oct. 6 at Toronto
Oct. 13 vs. Western
Oct. 20 at Queen's