Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros has been enjoying an extended period of time as a Grey Cup champion after beating Hamilton in the 2019 CFL title game.
The Ticats anointed Collaros the franchise quarterback in 2014. However, four years later Hamilton sent the veteran signal caller to Saskatchewan in a January trade.
“It felt great, I can’t lie about that. When I signed in Hamilton in 2014, I thought I would finish my career there,” Collaros said.
“After how things unfolded, to be able to win that game in the Grey Cup was special for me and my family.”
Hamilton was the first team to believe in Collaros and provide the opportunity to be a starting QB in the CFL. He spent four years in Steeltown and grew to love living in Canada, specifically in the province of Ontario. During that time, Collaros met his wife Nicole while playing for the Tabbies and the couple have settled in Aurora, ON with daughter Sierra.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Collaros and former Tiger-Cats teammate, Burlington native, offensive lineman Ryan Bomben had the idea to go into business together. That led to them opening Scholars Education Centre in Burlington, which works to help children reach full academic potential.
“I’m from the area, I live 10 minutes away. Growing up I was a kid who struggled in school and definitely could have used this type of experience. We’re just trying to give back and do our part for the community,” Bomben said.
Collaros and Bomben are using their new venture to give back to the community during the holiday season. They have a food drive ongoing at their Scholars location with donations going to the Burlington Food Bank and it’s reconnected Collaros with Ticats fans.
“We’re trying to lay our roots down. My wife and I were thinking what can we do to help the community? With times being difficult this year, people getting laid off of work, businesses being shutdown, it’s been hard to make ends meet,” Collaros said.
The American-Canadian pair played three seasons together with the Tiger-Cats and developed a tight bond, including a touchdown in August 2015 when Collaros connected with Bomben as an eligible receiver in the end zone during a win against Winnipeg.
“We were able to bounce ideas off each other and it blossomed into a good friendship. He lived in Burlington for a while which made it easier for us to connect in the off-season,” Bomben said.
“The CFL has given him a lot in his life and it’s really important to him, so he’s trying to give back to what got it started for him in Canada.”
It’s been nearly seven years for Collaros living in Ontario between his time with the Toronto Argos, Ticats and off-seasons between parts of two years in Saskatchewan — five years full-time for the Steubenville, Ohio native.
“With my wife’s family being close, I thought it was important for us having a child to be close to them,” Collaros said. “The love I’ve always felt, especially from this community in the Hamilton-Burlington area, it felt like home.”