Riders fan converts to the Black and Gold

Like pretty much every once else in the province of Saskatchewan, Regina native Sara Burkart grew up a Roughriders fans. She had a jersey, went to games and cheered for the hometown team.

Her favourite player was Craig Butler, the young Canadian defensive back the team drafted in 2011. An all-star his rookie season, Butler helped the Riders win the Grey Cup over the Ticats two years later.

The following off-season, however, Butler left Saskatchewan to join the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in free agency. But instead of bidding farewell to her favourite player, the 24-year-old Burkart went with him to the Ticats.

“I started out cheering for the Riders but cheering for Craig when the Ticats were playing,”Burkart says. “But then I got to know the team and their players more and now I’m a die-hard Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan living in Regina.”

It isn’t easy not being green, Burkart says, especially in a city where fandom is almost universal. Decked out in her Ticat sweatshirt as she walked around CFL Week festivities the last few days, she’s received some sidelong glances and the occasional chirp.

“The worst comes from my family and friends,” she says, laughing.

It would appear her conversion is complete, however. Last summer – even with Butler out for the season with a knee injury – Burkart drove more than 2,500 km each way to watch her first-ever game at Tim Hortons Field. She sat in the third row, right behind the Hamilton bench.

“I wanted to experience what it would be like to be surrounded by other fans cheering for the same team,” she says. “And I wanted to go to a Ticats game and not be heckled by Riders fans.

“It was something like 50 hours of driving but it was totally worth it.”

Burkart lined up with dozens of other fans at an autograph session this week and while most of them were interested in current Rider Rob Bagg or former Rider Weston Dressler, Burkart made a beeline for Simoni Lawrence.

“When I found out Simoni was going to be here, I knew I had to come,” she says. “He was great. I’ve run into a number of players and they’ve all been really nice.”

Burkart is planning to attend the Ticats’ home opener in July – she’s flying this time – and she’s hoping that Butler will be back in the line up. But there’s still one small detail to take care of.

“I just need the tickets. I bought a package at Christmas time that allows me to redeem my coupon at the end of May,” she said “But the entire trip is booked. I’m excited.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1311 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

68 Comments on Riders fan converts to the Black and Gold

  1. stampland // March 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm //

    So the first ever CFL week is 3 days old and we already have 2 stories of rider fans deciding there are alternative teams they’d like to cheer for.Guess rider pride isn’t all what its said to be.
    I’d love to hear more

  2. Stampland. You are so annoying! Go away!

  3. Scottsask // March 23, 2017 at 11:49 pm //

    Trollers be trolling, just ignore it.

  4. stampland // March 23, 2017 at 11:58 pm //

    Its a legit story worth commenting on!I like reading fan stories

    • Baltimore CFLers // March 24, 2017 at 12:35 am //

      Good work Stampland. You have 50% of the comments so far with this story! You normally seem to be around the 35% mark. If you apply yourself I truly believe that you could crack 70% for each and every story on this website. By the beginning of the season you will get a gold star. Go Stampland.

      • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 12:40 am //

        Not sure why my participation is such a concerns of yours .Ummm I guess I should be flattered??

  5. Anthony Kaduck // March 24, 2017 at 6:30 am //

    Welcome to the one true faith Sara!

  6. cvmurrieta // March 24, 2017 at 6:58 am //

    The Ticats home opener will also be my first Hamilton Ticats game and CFL game. And I thought driving three and a half hours to get to Tim Hortons Field was long! I am definitely looking forward to mid-July.

  7. I grew up in sask and went through the same experience as this Sara. I even moved to outside of Hamilton. But the true difference is Rider fans don’t jump bandwagons. Especially because a player changed teams. That’s groupie mentality not fan. Born a Rider fan die a Rider fan!

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 10:28 am //

      lol well there are now 2 stories on here suggesting they do.Rider fans are fickle.What have you done for me lately attitude.Sara I’ll buy you a beer if you come and cheer for Hamilton in Calgary and against the riders when they come (which is twice this year).The second time is late season and I can tell you there will barely be a green jersey to be seen .Rider fans will already be talking about next year.How 2018 will be Jones breakout season

      • Stampland, you try to make every story an anti rider story. Sara appears to be more of a Craig Butler groupie than a football fan. I truly believe that you are jealous of the riders. There will be just as many Rider fans in the stands in Calgary as there has always been. Calgary is a beautiful city, but there are not many Stampeder fans for the size of the population. It has been this way since at least the mid seventies. The stadium is rarely sold out unless the riders are in town. It clearly makes you upset that you need the riders to sell out McMahon Stadium. It must really burn your butt that the riders can sell out when they are not even performing well, yet Calgary can’t fill the stadium with fans even when fielding an excellent team. I think this is the true source of your hatred. It is simple jealousy. It is sad that every story I read on this website has to contain at least one anti rider comment from you. You cannot help yourself from mentioning the riders and taking a nasty dig at them. You are obsessed with them. You spend more time thinking about the riders than your beloved stamps.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm //

          Thanks for comments Love the cfl.I for one do not think Sara is a Butler groupie!!. I’m a huge stamp fan and really attendance numbers aren’t that different..Please check the stamps attendance figures and see the last time rider fans sold out Mcmahon.
          2013 western final vs Sask 33,174
          2016 western final vs BC 32,115
          So really your support is only marginally better despite claims of grandeur.
          During last year reg season labor day was biggest attendance not riders. riders drew slightly higher than average (slightly over 28,000)

          Besides these numbers I don’t know many fans how base success on attendance figures rather than winning .The fact is all Rider fans have to brag about is attendance (and exaggeratedat that).

          • The point I am trying to get across to you is that you have to comment endlessly about the riders regardless of what team or whom the story might be about. I find this odd and cannot help but notice it. I know I am not the only one based on other comments I have read here.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm //

          not true please see story on calvillo and tracy ham..as well as story of Calgary/Edmonton vying for 2018 Grey Cup as recent examples

          • I will check them both out. If this is the case, then good for you , it is a step in the right direction. I like to see us celebrate this wonderful game and it’s players and fans, and not tear down each other.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 3:33 pm //

          I’m not tearing anyone down.I don’t take shots at anyone personally just express my opinions

      • You have actually gone way overboard, your the one on hear trying to act like you do nothing wrong and provoke and poke and exaggerate. Your enough to actually make someone sick. Are you drunk when your on here stump or just need a drink? I am absolutely blown away at how fascinated you are with CJ and the Riders. What 1 or 2 fans say doesn’t speak for an entire fan base especially one that is substantially larger than that. Do you think that there has ever been a Calgary fan that has changed what team they cheer for? Come on man you must have something else to do other than what you do on here. You know deep down how annoying you are right?

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm //

      This is a young woman who accidentally(Though being a fan of a particular player) discovered a better experience with great fans.Perhaps a less alcohol fueled base

  8. Joe King // March 24, 2017 at 8:46 am //

    Who can blame her.

  9. This is a really cool story. Hope you have a great time at the home opener Sara!

  10. Went to Regina for the Ticats Riders GC game decked out in my TC jersey etc. The fans in the stand were hospitable but the fans in the concourse were pretty rude. I would not go back.

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 10:16 am //

      That’s the consensus I hear too.Hostile,chip on their shoulder drunk fan base

      • Friends of mine were threatened and had beer dumped on them at Macman in Calgary wearing their Esks jerseys by idiots wearing Calgary jerseys. What you have to say about that troll???

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm //

          There a few bad fan everywhere

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 7:18 pm //

          FYI oske ..it McMahon…not Macman 🙂

          • Here we go with the English lesson from the annoying troll. So a few bad fans everywhere except Saskatchewan, there the few bad represent the entire fan base is that correct troll. You are not even rational, you are a very sick person. To bad when you were getting beat up as a child they didn’t do a better job. Now comment on here how your being threatened etc….cause that’s what you do so well just like the sleeze Huff is, you alberta sickies like to stir the pot but refuse to lick the spoon…..I know that Huff, Wally and Hervey did exactly the same thing as CJ did with having an extra practise roster but they hid in the closet as usual and let someone else go down for it. BTW it is also rumored that Kent did it but the sources I know haven’t played for the Ticats so they couldn’t confirm. They did however confirm that Wally, Huff and Hervey are actually the biggest slime balls around so what you have to say about that troll?

          • stampland // March 25, 2017 at 12:21 pm //

            WOW! I have nothing really to say to that oske.

  11. This Rider fan and owner is glad she’s still a CFL fan. I only take issue with those football fans who don’t cheer for any Canadian team… ie NFL only.

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm //


      • Correct, owner.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm //

          hmm last time I looked this was a community owned team.Which is to say they really don’t have an owner

          • Actually they have many owners, shares have been available to buy a few times over the years. Shares provide various voting rights and other benefits.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm //

          oh right.I forgot about that. That’s called a money grab same as this new fan wall just created.

          • I can see how an outsider would think that, but as we determine the board of directors, who hire’s/fires the President, who hire’s/fires the GM, etc., we have more input than most other fans in this great league.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm //

          Oh,,so you’re to blame for the Jones circus?

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm //

      It is impressive I will admit. Of course 30 years from this exact moment it will be fairly old,out of date and antiquated ….and you’ll still be paying for it

      • You mean like almost every other stadium and arena built in Canada? The proposed Flames/Stamps complex wasn’t going to be paid for in cash either.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 4:37 pm //

          an dthat arena is highly unlikely to go ahead due to cost concerns.

        • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm //

          Its not a matter of having the coffers to pay for it in cash.Its a matter of financing/cost to citizen vs overall financial benefit to its citizens .Yours will take longer to pay for then a mortgage on a house and was decided on based on emotion not common sense responsible thinking

  12. I guess it’s sort of like when the Riders go to Calgary and half the fans switch to their favorite color – green and cheer for their favorite team, the Riders. Despite being Calgary residents and appeasing the collective for all other games, how many switch out for the one and only Canada’s team when ever they roll into Stumpville.

  13. stampland // March 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm //

    Half?? hardly,another myth of rider pride.Yes Sask do have disproportionate number of fans at other stadiums when rider play there.There is a good reason for this..everyone born there moves anywhere but!!. That is possibly changing with stronger economic growth under a smart government lead by Brad Wall. True core fans are of equal numbers for all teams and continuing futility will soon show who the true rider fans are. IMO if legislation was passed to ban alcohol sales at outdoor sporting events in Saskatchewan you would see a lot of green; as in empty green plastic seats at the financially strapped Mosaic

    • Your not saying anything special there, if alcohol was banned at any sporting event anywhere in the world attendance would plummet, including Calgary.

      • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm //

        Good point Grain,.However NCAA bans booze at games and they seem to do pretty well.

        • I am always amazed at American college attendance, and with no alcohol at that. The exception rather than the rule IMO.

          • cvmurrieta // March 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm //

            You can drink booze on campus at the myriad of tailgate parties around campus. At least this was the case at Michigan State. It is just that alcohol is not allowed inside the stadium per NCAA policy. Many of the fans have and will continue to show up extremely happy because of a “few” drinks before the big game.

          • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm //

            yep you can drink outside and I’m sure some people sneak it in.I’ve been to games at Arizona state and Stanford and both had bars around the stadium that were full prior to game time

        • cvmurrieta // March 25, 2017 at 10:50 am //

          stampland, I will concur with you about how some people probably sneak it in. Although it wasn’t alcohol, my ex-wife did have me sneak in other bottled drinks a couple of times. Since we both entered Spartan Stadium from the student season ticket holder entrance, the ushers didn’t check very well. Those were fun days! I am sure the PAC-12 is also fun.

          • stampland // March 25, 2017 at 11:37 am //

            yeah it was fun.Stanford more so than Arizona state. I think (and heard) Big 10 is better and I’m sure Mich state would be awesome.I know people who saw a Wisconsin home game (when Russell Wilson there) and they said it was an unreal experience

    • You sir are just plain mean!!!!

  14. I grew up in northern Sask where it was too far away to get caught up in “Rider Pride” and especially so since Rider games were blacked out on television. BC Lions were my team back then.
    Now that I live in MB, seeing the Rider green feels like home. (It’s not the Manitoba Bombers!)
    I hope it’s still okay to switch teams.

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm //

      LF sure you can switch teams,I have a spare Stamps season ticket with your name on it!!

  15. LosDrahos // March 24, 2017 at 2:24 pm //

    STAMPLAND stop!!!!!
    I’m a STAMP fan and you are embarrassing me. I do not know what you have against the Riders and its fans but it is an unhealthy addiction.
    Please make your comments less condescending( having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority) and reply only if you have something positive and relative to the article. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

    • stampland // March 24, 2017 at 2:53 pm //

      Thanks for the constructive criticism LosDrahos.I will take it under consideration.As a fellow Stamps fan I’d like to know what section do you sit in at Mcmahon? What are your favorite in game promotions and contests? Whats your favorite food vendor?

    • Ladd Law // March 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm //

      Thank you. Stampland has been taking shots and throwing grenades every chance he gets, whether it’s relevant to the story or not. Nice to see another Stamp fan speak to it.

    • Los. Amen.

    • SaskWatch // March 25, 2017 at 1:21 am //

      Yes, thanks for the constructive criticism LosDrahos… It’s a refreshing change from the destructive criticism of stampland.


  16. Mr Curling feels sorry for anyone not living in Saskatchewan. 3downnation had low expectations and a negative article about CFL week, now look at the success, which could only happen in Regina (or maybe Edmonton). Every person who came without exception has universally praised the crowds and the new stadium

  17. stampland // March 24, 2017 at 8:51 pm //

    Anyways Sara,Enjoy your trip to Hamilton (it’s a fine city) and good luck to the Ti-cats in 2017.You are free to cheer for who you want and don’t listen to angry rider fans insults;you are a Ti-cats fan not groupie

  18. Sara Burkart // March 25, 2017 at 10:34 am //

    Thank you to anyone who has commented positively on here, regardless of what team you cheer for! I am really looking forward to going to another Ticats home game!!

    The one thing that was missed in this article, that I felt I had made clear during the interview, was the fact that I still cheer proudly for my home team. I want them to do well. I grew up a Rider fan and don’t plan on changing that any time soon. I fully embrace living in Regina, the heart of Rider Nation, and fully intend on going to multiple games dressed in green and white, like I have my entire life.

    That being said, I am, in fact, so much of a football fan that I was able to see past the exhilarating world that is Rider Nation, and appreciate the sport for what it is. Football is not just one team. My eyes have been opened to all of the incredible athletes playing on every team across the CFL. To say that I am not a true football fan just because I followed my favourite player to another team is ridiculous. I recognized the talent that he had and wasn’t going to give up supporting his career just because he wasn’t playing for my home team anymore. Players gets traded or choose to move all the time. It’s happens. Ceasing to support an athlete simply because they do not play for your team anymore isn’t something I would be proud of. That would be like telling me that I’m not allowed to cheer for a high school friend of mine, who was recently drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, simply because he doesn’t play for our home team.

    CFL Week has been one of the most incredible experiences, because players and fans from every team in the league came together to celebrate this sport that we all love. I had the opportunity to meet many players, from both the Riders and the Ticats, as well as every other team, and was totally impressed by the sportsmanship shown by everyone. I may have been walking around in my Ticats shirt, but I was greeted graciously by the likes of Jonathon Jennings, Rob Bagg, Mike Reilly, Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli, Weston Dressler, and Adarius Bowman, and I very sincerely wished them all luck in the coming season.

    Also, I didn’t “jump bandwagons”, I have simply grown to love football more and more over the past 10 years or so, and have, heaven forbid, found a team other that I thoroughly enjoy watching as much as the Riders. Also, saying that I’m more of a “Craig Butler groupie” than an actual football fan is very inaccurate. Why would I spend all of that time and money driving to Ontario from Saskatchewan to watch a Ticats game, when Craig wasn’t even playing due to an injury, if I wasn’t a football fan? I love both the sport, and the athletes, and that isn’t a bad thing.

    • cvmurrieta // March 25, 2017 at 10:55 am //

      Thank you for your comment, Sara. Nothing wrong with following your passions wherever they may lead and staying true to tradition. I honestly enjoyed reading your comment as I have had the same feelings about various sports teams for years.

  19. stampland // March 25, 2017 at 11:50 am //

    Sara you are a real fan. Many could learn lessons from your great attitude and unbiased view of the CFL. Enjoy all games whatever stadium you go to and please come to McMahon someday. We may not have the prettiest stadium but I’m sure you will enjoy the experience

  20. Stampland change your handle to STUMPHEAD………Go Riders!

    • stampland // March 29, 2017 at 5:36 pm //

      Totally uncalled for John. Anyways I’ve been called far worse by many rider fans with their unprovoked attacks on me

Comments are closed.