Blue-chip rookies take centre stage

Every year, Laurier football has big expectations.

This season is no different, as the Golden Hawks are already talking Vanier Cup or bust.

It‘s this winning attitude that makes the Hawks a consistent contender, and that same attitude is instilled in rookies the minute they walk into training camp.

Winning is contagious — just as the idea of it is — and that has three top-flight rookies excited.

Blue-chip prospect Chris Ackie plays defensive back as does Halifax native Adam Olsen, while the ever-impressive Kelvin Muamba is a receiver.

All three players look to make an immediate impact this season, something they can achieve due to their cool demeanor and the necessary confidence needed for an athlete to accomplish their goals.

While the crazy life of training camp as a rookie, combined with school as a first year, can drown many who attempt such a daunting task, these youngsters feel as if they have been put in a position to succeed.

“Really, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Muamba. “For me, I have a lot of help from veterans and coaches, and my family, so I’m really just taking it step by step and it’s going really smoothly”.

Chris Ackie has a similar opinion, crediting his promising situation to those around him and his roots, which are conveniently close considering he grew up a Golden Hawk fan in Cambridge.

“Growing up here meant I was always watching Laurier games and I met a lot of the players. [Those players] and coaches have created a family atmosphere and made me feel a part of the team already,” said Ackie, who is finding life at Laurier quite comfortable due to the proximity of being close to home.

Muamba is also comfortable, but not because of being close to home, but rather because those around him are a reminder of home.

Star receiver Shamawd Chambers comes from the same neighborhood as Kelvin Muamba and they have been friends for a few years now, dating back to high school.

Fellow rookie Ese Mrabure-Ajufo also played with Muamba for the past few seasons in high school, making the adjustment even simpler for the Mount Carmel graduate.

“It makes it a lot easier ‘cause we have been together for a while and played on the same teams,” said Muamba.

And while Chambers is much further along in his development as a receiver, Muamba said it is a big help to have such talent around him.

“He helps me a lot. We’ve practiced before this so he has helped out a lot with route running and everything that makes him so good.”

While both Ackie and Muamba are confident in their abilities, along with Olsen, and they all feel they can contribute to the Golden Hawks immediately, they do agree on what is no doubt the most challenging aspect of joining the team so far.

“The playbook,” said Ackie, “because it is so much different than high school, there are so many things to learn, I need to know everyone on the defence’s role, not just my own.”

The best thing for the rookies to do is study the playbook, a routine that Muamba has mastered.

“I just came into camp focused and try to learn the playbook every night and then be consistent every day in practice.”

With lofty expectations for both individual and team success, the trio are in for big rookie seasons with the Golden Hawks this fall.

Primed for success, they do not shy away from speaking about their goals. Ackie is confident in the team’s ability to win football games, stating simply “Vanier this year, no doubt. That’s my goal for every year and team.”

Kelvin Muamba agreed, but with a twist, “Vanier, and rookie of the year.”