Hawks’ alum Peter Quinney lives CFL dream

At this time last year, Peter Quinney was unsure if he’d ever get another chance to play in the CFL.

After being drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Laurier alumnus had failed to crack the team’s final roster and was heading back to Waterloo to play his final year of eligibility with the Golden Hawks.

“I was certainly hopeful, but you’re never sure you’ll get another shot,” said Quinney. “You think you deserve one, but you never really know if it’s going to come… But in the end, leaving Winnipeg turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”

Not making the Blue Bombers’ final roster has turned out to be a blessing indeed for Quinney. It enabled the fullback and special teams stand-out to return to Laurier and play a big leadership role in the Hawks’ 6-2 season, graduate from teacher’s college and finally get that elusive second chance at the CFL, signing with the Toronto Argonauts last January.

Originally signed to the Argos’ practice squad, Quinney has made the most of this opportunity, not only making the roster out of training camp, but dressing and playing on several of the squad’s special teams units in every game since week two.

“Sometimes I still feel like a giddy little kid who just went out and made his first play,” said Quinney. “Being able to go out on that field as an Argo and play in the CFL can be pretty surreal. But at the same time, it’s a very high-stress environment. You’re always working to get better, the next game, the next series, the next play, so there’s really not much time to stop and smell the roses.”

Since arriving in Toronto, Quinney has been mentored by several veteran players, such as fellow Canadian fullbacks Jeff Johnson and Bryan Crawford.

“I really look to both those guys to see how they work and get clarification on certain things, and they’re always willing to help,” said Quinney. “I’ve been very fortunate to be around guys like that.”

Quinney has also received guidance from current Argos’ special teams co-ordinator and CFL legend Mike O’Shea.

“That’s definitely one of those really cool things because when I was a kid I would go to Argos games and cheer on Mike O’Shea and now we’re sitting down and watching film together,” said Quinney.

“The man’s experience on the field sure does come right through when he’s coaching. He can make really complicated things seem very simple, and he never puts too much pressure on you.”

Although he now plays in Toronto, Quinney has very much kept Waterloo in his life. The 24-year-old still lives in KW, commuting daily to the Argos’ practice facility in Mississauga.

“It definitely makes for some early mornings,” said Quinney of adding the drive to the exhausting schedule of a professional football player.

“But it’s definitely nice to be back in Waterloo with my girlfriend and be able to go there and relax.”

However, a demanding schedule is nothing new to Quinney as last year he had to juggle playing for the Hawks, 40 hours of class per week, as well as a work placement, while earning his teaching degree from Laurier’s junior/intermediate education program.

Despite making the CFL, Quinney doesn’t plan on giving up his aspirations to become a teacher. He currently sits on the short-list for the Waterloo Region’s supply teaching board and intends to teach while playing professional football.