Looking ahead to this week's 2019 uOttawa Gee-Gees Touchdown Dinner in collaboration with and support from 1881 Gee-Gees Football Alumni Association, uOttawa is pleased to profile each of its new Football Hall of Fame Inductees. Mike Sheridan was an All-Canadian linebacker for uOttawa, playing from 2003-07 and capturing the Yates Cup in 2006.
"We were the ultimate team defence," says Sheridan, who is the first member of the defensive unit from 2006 to be inducted into the Gee-Gees Hall of Fame. "As Coach Laramee would say, we were great because of the sum of our parts. And I was simply fortunate to be one of them."
Sheridan came to uOttawa because he was seeking a place to compete and earn his business degree. When he was offered a spot playing Nickelback, the Mississauga, Ont. product committed and took his place on what would become the nation's top defensive unit. The Gee-Gees allowed just 12.1 points per game in 2006 and led the nation again in 2007.
From Defensive Coordinator Danny Laramee's perspective, Sheridan was a truly special athlete. The player he calls 'Swiss Army Knife', started all five seasons for the Garnet and Grey and was the team's selection as the defensive MVP in just his second season. "I have a special place in my heart for Mike because of how hard he worked and how selfless he was and what he did to make our program great," remembers Laramee. "Every Saturday Mike was ready to dominate his opponent, execute our game plan, and make his teammates around him better."
"It's hard to pinpoint what it was that turned us from 2003 rookies to 2006 Yates Cup champions, but all signs point to the coaching staff we had, and the types of players they recruited," Sheridan explains. "Whether they specifically set out looking for like-minded individuals, or whether they moulded us that way is difficult to say. Although I imagine it was a combination of the two, and I know for a fact that we had a consistent pursuit of excellence. It wasn't just a pursuit, it was an expectation."
"Right from Day One, it was 'do your job, or don't play', and that's why we won football games," Sheridan continues. Ottawa was 29-11 in regular season play during Sheridan's tenure, culminating with an undefeated 8-0 record in 2007. "Coach Laramee taught us the fundamentals of team defence, made sure we were relentlessly prepped for each team, and never let our excuses get in the way of our success. No one was playing for themselves, we were playing for each other."
The 2006 Yates Cup is a clear memory for Sheridan; Ottawa's defence completely shut down Laurier in the second half while the offence rolled to a 32-14 win. "Confidence is what stands out to me most from that game," he says. "No one was nervous, everyone was focused, and everything seemed easy."
2007 was Sheridan's All-Canadian season; he led the team with 33 tackles as well as a forced fumble, interception return for a TD, and a fumble return. He earned a reputation throughout the country for a textbook strip sack against McMaster that made its way to TSN. The national recognition for his senior season reflects his passion for the position which brought him to uOttawa.
"Perhaps the biggest legacy Mike Sheridan could have left behind is in his selection to the All-Canadian team," notes five-year teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Kevin Kelly. "Mike was the only nominated linebacker that did not play the middle linebacker position. The leading tackler on most teams is the middle linebacker and rarely does it fall on a player who is lined up outside of the tackle box in coverage for a majority of the game. Yet Mike found himself in the conversation for All-Canadian linebacker."
"Every year after 2007 has seen two cover linebackers (SAM) selected to the All-Canadian team. In short, Mike has forever changed the position of SAM linebacker and the recognition of that position for everyone that came after him. His impact and legacy may go unnoticed but for every player that has played SAM linebacker across Canada, they have Mike Sheridan to thank for the way it is recognized," concludes Kelly.
Sheridan attended the CFL Combine but began his career in business right after his fifth season in Garnet and Grey, having completed his Finance degree. "The greatest gift football has given me in work and life is an understanding of delayed gratification. Champions aren't an overnight success, they're a relentless pursuit. And this (sometimes painful) pursuit is what makes the reward so great."
Twelve years after his final game, Sheridan has established himself as a noted nutrition and fitness coach. "I'm extremely grateful for all the sacrifices the coaches made during my time at Ottawa. And that gratitude grows in significance, as I get older and take on the responsibilities of the real world, and recognize what an amazing experience I was given."
That opportunity to look back with a new perspective is what the Touchdown Dinner is all about. "The best thing about the Touchdown Dinner is seeing your old teammates in the future – with big time jobs, lots of kids, and extra body fat – but chatting it up like no time has passed," says Sheridan.
"We have a bond through university football that's hard to explain, though anyone that's played university football can easily understand."
Mike Sheridan was a five year starter for the Gee-Gees and through his work ethic on and off the field quietly led his teammates to a Yates Cup victory and an undefeated regular season in his final seasons. Sheridan was named to the All-Canadian team in 2007 following a regular season which saw him collect 25 solo tackles, 6 assisted tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 interception from the SAM linebacker position. Sheridan's preparation and attention to detail was a shining example to all his teammates and showed that everything you do on the field, in the gym, or in film study is only half of what it means to be a student-athlete. Sheridan completed his degree in Finance and after a number of successful roles in sales for large corporations he became an entrepreneur. He is now a best-selling author and noted nutrition and fitness coach.