Meeting the CFL fans that made the 109th Grey Cup special

Photo: Arthur Ward/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Beyond the competition on the field in the 109th Grey Cup, fans from across the Canadian Football League gathered in Saskatchewan last week for a celebration of their team pride — just as they do every year for Canada’s biggest game.

Growing up in Regina, I knew this would be the ultimate place to host the 109th Grey Cup and I went searching for the best CFL fans out there. Here is who I found.

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Jenny Opazo and Cecilia Morrissey – Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans

Jenny: “The Winnipeg Blue Bombers love their fan base and we always feel like part of the team. It truly is a team effort when it comes to winning, not just about one player but everyone contributes to the team culture. When someone scores a touchdown, they always come to celebrate with the fans. It makes us feel involved in the game.”

Cecilia: “It does not matter to us about the outcome of the Grey Cup. We are here to support the team, win or lose. We stick together as fans and a team. The whole team shows us love by supporting our community back home in Winnipeg. Athletes like Nic Demski, who played high school football with my son at Oak Park High School, are always giving back to local schools and charities. As well as Brady Oliveira who helps rescue dogs within our community to make it a better place. We see them everywhere and it’s so inspiring to see.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Rysa and Shane Kronebusch – B.C. Lions fans

Rysa: “British Columbia is our home province and we find the Lions are the best team in the league. We have the best fan base and we all fully support and love Nathan Rourke. I know he was considering moving on — I hope that he stays — but if he does, no matter where he goes he will be successful and always have a home in the CFL. Players with that much talent always remember how good the fan base here is in Canada.”

Shane: “I grew up in Edmonton, was a huge Edmonton fan and went through all the championships there, then I moved to B.C. and joined up with the B.C. fan base. Our new owner is bringing the energy back to the team. They have the tailgates going, he had a whole bunch of promotions this year that he put on to get the excitement going and get fans in the seats.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Daniel Barbieri and Suke Ogata – Toronto Argonauts fans

Daniel – “We love football, it’s the oldest franchise in North America and it’s exciting to be part of that as fans. We love supporting the Argonauts at every home game. We are driving across Canada right now all the way from Toronto to Vancouver for work and we made sure we stopped at the Grey Cup in Regina to support the Argos. Looking at where McLeod Bethel-Thompson began and now becoming a starter is an inspiring story. He is someone we love to support and cheer for.”

Suke: “Daniel is a snowboarding instructor and I am a chef in the wintertime in the Vancouver area. Being able to stop at the 109th Grey Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan makes the trip across Canada even better.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Murray Laatsch and Justin Laatsch – Calgary Stampeders fans

Murray: “We both love football and the Grey Cup is something we do together every year as a family. It’s a fantastic Canadian tradition. I work remotely now in Mexico and I come back to Canada once a year for Grey Cup. Last time we were in Regina in 2013 for the Grey Cup, we brought an RV and parked it outside of the stadium. On the first night, we ran out of propane and needed to run a huge cord into the stadium to get power. We got our power back and had the best Grey Cup ever in Regina. It’s a trip we will always remember.”

Justin: “There are so many reasons to be a Stamps fan but the horse is the best reason! Seeing the horse run by brings myself and my family so much joy. We  are huge Bo Levi Mitchell fans and will always support him with his next step.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Tammy Lee and Larry Sinson – Ottawa Redblacks fans

Tammy: “We came all the way from Ottawa for the whole week.  If you want to be a CFL fan, you have to come to Regina. The stadium, the people, and the atmosphere is what football is all about. I have been to all the other stadiums in the CFL and started planning for this trip a year ago to finally say that I have been to Mosaic Stadium.”

Larry: “Our grandchildren love the game as much as we do. We watch the games as a family and it has become a tradition for us to come out to the Grey Cup. This whole Grey Cup festival has been the best I’ve ever been around. They did a great job bringing all the teams together. We are very proud of Ottawa’s general manager Shawn Burke and we want to congratulate him on the new baby. Very excited for the next Redblacks season.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Krista Juselius – Saskatchewan Roughriders fan

Krista: “My dad was born and raised in Regina, I ended up living in Winnipeg but we are four generations of Rider fans so I had to keep the tradition alive. I have been a Rider season ticket holder for 6 years now. We drive all the way from Winnipeg for games throughout the season. The whole team is inspiring, from players to staff. They make it easy to cheer for the green and white. Mosaic Stadium really is the best stadium in all of Canada. Go Riders!”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Ryan Harder – Montreal Alouettes fan

Ryan: “I have been a fan since the 1996 comeback playoff game and I remember players like Tracy Ham and Mike Pringle. Those athletes got me really excited about being an Alouettes fan. Thinking of my other favourite Alouettes players, it would have to be Mike Pringle, Anthony Calvillo, Ben Cahoon, Scott Flory, and Jake Wieneke. These guys really made me love the game even more. The Grey Cup festival is a great place to see all CFL fans come from across the country to celebrate the sport we love. Just waiting for the day the Atlantic Schooners come join us.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Matt Machado — Edmonton Elks fan

Matt: “Born and raised in Edmonton, I have had season tickets since 2002. Commonwealth Stadium is a place that brings together all of Edmonton to support the team we love. If you take a look at the crowd here today, you’ll see fans from coast to coast united to show their pride. This is all of Canada coming together as one. I am reminded of how we almost lost this league before and to see everyone coming out today shows me we never will lose it. This is my 14th Grey Cup and for myself, I would like to see more of a younger audience being bought into the CFL fan base. I do my best to promote my pride for Edmonton but the youth are going to carry this league into the next generation and keep it going.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller

Tom Alvey – Hamilton Tiger-Cats fan

Tom: “My outfit today takes about an hour and a half to do but it’s worth it every time. My family and I came all the way from Hamilton to be here today, this is my 7th Grey Cup in a row. We book a week’s vacation to come out every year to the Grey Cup, this is the ultimate trip from the festival to the big game day. I was born and raised in Hamilton so I felt the pride of being a Ticats fan my whole life. I want to shout out my favourite player, Sean Thomas-Erlington, who is just so talented.”

Photo: Amanda Ruller
Photo: Amanda Ruller

Tom’s tattoos caught my eye. He has Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons, Aaron Crawford, Jay Langa, Sergio Castillo, Adam Bighill, and Don Narcisse on his leg. He has plans to get a player from every team on the other leg someday.

 

 

As we enter the 2023 offseason, the events around Mosaic Stadium last week remind us why the CFL brings so much pride to Canada. Uniting fans from all over to celebrate the great game of football as one is what makes Grey Cup week special every year. I am happy to have witnessed each team’s pride and can’t wait to see it again next year!

Amanda has been an athlete all her life, competing for Women’s World Team Canada Football, Team Canada Bobsled/Skeleton and Team Saskatchewan Olympic Lifting. She is the current Saskatchewan Snatch & Clean and Jerk record holder for her weight class. Throughout this, she has been able to share her athletic journey through social media. Her passion for this allows her to be a sought-after brand ambassador for major companies both local and international. Amanda is a sports broadcaster. She works for a local show ‘In the Huddle’ and can be seen as a media host for the Sask Junior Hockey League. She also is currently the In-Game Host for the Saskatchewan Rush.