After the team’s historic Grey Cup victory in November, it would be understandable if members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers decided to spend the off-season relaxing, but for one member of the team, community service is a year-round job.
Bombers linebacker Thomas Miles, one of four Winnipeg natives on the team, is the latest recipient of the Ed Kotowich Good Guy Award, which acknowledges a player who displays excellence on the field, leadership in the locker room, and outstanding effort in the community.
In Miles’ case, his list of community-service accomplishments is at least as long as his in-game highlights.
“I suppose that’s just how my family works,” Miles told 680 CJOB. “Across the country, I’ve got my mom’s side in B.C. and the rest of my family here in Winnipeg, and all sorts of members of the family make various commitments to the community.
In addition to serving on the board of directors for Manitoba’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Miles is involved with the Bombers’ Tackle Bullying initiative, as well as programs aimed at preventing domestic violence across Manitoba.
His community work has involved extensive travel to communities in northern Manitoba – something he says he likely never would have experienced otherwise.
“That’s definitely been one of the more rewarding and interesting parts of participating in these Bombers initiatives,” he said.
“I hadn’t been north of, probably, Gimli… until we went to Norway House, and we were in Thompson and Snow Lake. I think we’re going up to Shamattawa.
“There are some really, really fantastic communities up north that I don’t think we Winnipeggers really think about enough.”
Miles, who hasn’t missed a single game in his tenure with the Bombers – a streak of 54 consecutive appearances – is also working on his Masters degree in business administration, but said he’s able to manage despite having so many balls in the air at once.
“That’s the beautiful thing about the CFL,” he said. “It’s six months on and six months off, so I’ve got to find a way to fill my time in the off-season.
As a Winnipegger with a football career that led from Churchill High School to the University of Manitoba before starting in the CFL in 2014 (with the Toronto Argonauts), Miles said experiencing a Grey Cup victory with his hometown squad was one for the ages.
“The biggest joy was the parade,” he said. “It was just very special, just about everything I imagined it to be for a Winnipeg team to bring a championship back.
“The enthusiasm and energy from the city has been so rewarding and fulfilling. It makes all of the sacrifices that we make throughout the course of the season worth it.”