VANCOUVER – It’s safe to say Jon Cornish will be mentally prepared for the 2014 Grey Cup. The veteran Calgary Stampeders running back has long used meditation to help stay mentally focused.
“Jon does what he does because he is a different person,” said Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell prior to practice at BC Place Wednesday.
“He’s not doing your normal preparations. He’s learning different things, learning how to meditate, learning how to do karate. Whatever it is. He’s learning how to be a different, better athlete. That’s what makes him so tough. That’s why his balance is so good. His mental game is so strong.”
Cornish believes mental toughness was a reason why the Stampeders fell to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in last year’s West Division final and it’s something his team has to master if they want to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday.
“I truly felt that that loss, there was something more going on than just a football team losing to another football team,” says Cornish. “I felt the Riders had an impetus, something that was pushing them that we didn’t have. I knew it was that they had a lot going on in the locker room, but they also had the support and love of the fans”
“When I faced down their defence, they believed in something that maybe we didn’t at the time. That’s what I’m trying to cultivate for this year.”
The pen is mightier
Another thing Cornish does to keep himself on top of his game: creating a so-called ‘move list’ where he writes out moves he makes on the field.
“The strongest memory is no match for the faintest ink,” says Cornish, quoting a Chinese proverb.
“People can think about things all they want. I have it written down so I can see exactly what I’m going to do.”
“I realized primarily through meditation that a lot of the stuff we do is not real,” said the 30-year-old. “I’ve had the move list for about 2 1/2 years now and after I found it was effective I added a few extra moves. If you see me do a few different things on the field it’s never a new move, it’s always stuff that I’ve researched.”
Coming full circle
The philosophical Cornish, who grew up in New Westminster, B.C., may wonder if the stars have aligned for him to win a second Grey Cup. On Sunday, he’ll be playing at BC Place where he won a provincial high school football title with the St. Thomas More Knights more than a decade ago. He won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete and the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award, and feels the time is right for the Stampeders to finally win the Grey Cup.
“After having the Lou Marsh last year and the MOP last year, this is really all I have left to win,” said Cornish. “To do that here in front of my hometown, in Vancouver, I think it would be truly a wonderful experience.”
-with files from Canadian Press