Saskatchewan Roughriders rookie Quinn Van Gylswyk is quickly discovering that even for kickers, the rigours of training camp take a physical toll.
“I’ve never had my legs dead before and a few of the days I was just swinging a spaghetti noodle. I was in shape but you never kick 17 days straight, and that’s kind of what I’ve been trying to get used to,” he said.
It’s just one of many lessons Van Gylswyk is learning in his first CFL camp. The Victoria, B.C., native is currently competing for a job as the Riders’ punter but the team drafted him with the hope that he will eventually assume all three kicking roles.
“What makes Quinn special is his potential. I think people see a long, athletic guy that had some really big kicks in university ball,” Riders special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson said.
The biggest of those kicks provided the winning points for the UBC Thunderbirds in the 2015 Vanier Cup, putting Van Gylswyk in a pretty exclusive club — one that just happens to include fellow Rider Tyler Crapigna, who accomplished the feat as a McMaster Marauder in 2011.
“It’s very rare to have a person kicking a game-winning field goal in a Vanier Cup but to have two on one team it’s even more rare. It’s been good so far, I’m just looking forward for the season to start,” Crapigna said.
After being acquired by the Riders in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders last fall, Crapigna is expected to begin the season as Saskatchewan’s primary placekicker.
With Van Gylswyk waiting in the wings, Crapigna knows consistency will be the key to keeping his job. For now however, both players simply want to help the Riders rebound from a forgettable 3-15 campaign in 2015.
“We’re not here for a rebuilding phase or anything like that. We’re trying to win every game that we can. That’s kind of been the mindset of everyone at this camp and I feel like everyone is starting to mold together and really believe that’s possible for us,” Crapigna said.