That’s right, your humble hockey writer is taking a step into CFL territory. To my 12 loyal readers of my NHL ramblings, do not fear, I’ll be back to my hockey chatter on Friday.
For those of you who know me though, you’ll know that I am and always have been a hardcore Toronto Argonauts fan, and recently I came across the website of Argos kicker Swayze Waters. I’ve heard that Waters is a very positive, uplifting, and inspirational person, and after reading his website’s journal, I can certainly see why he would be described that way. After reading his entry, “More than a Game,” I found myself inspired and encouraged to continue towards my goals in life. I sent him a message saying thank you, and asked if he would like to do an interview with me, and he was kind enough to do so via email. Without further ado, here is my interview with Swayze Waters:
Swayze, growing up in Mississippi, who was your team? Who were your heroes growing up?
I was always a Brett Favre fan. Growing up in Mississippi we didn’t have a professional team, so Brett Favre was who I followed. He’s from Mississippi and played at USM. I wasn’t really a Packers fan, but I was definitely a Brett Favre fan. Also, everyone in Mississippi likes the Mannings.
You were originally signed by the Edmonton Eskimos, prior to that, what was your knowledge of the CFL? Or even Canada for that matter?
I knew very little about the CFL, other than hearing the names of some teams when people I played with/against would sign to a CFL team. I really didn’t know what to expect. I have really enjoyed my time in Canada and have nothing but great things to say about the league, people, and places.
Were there any difficulties in adjusting to the rule changes/style of play in the CFL from college ball/NFL rules/play?
The ball is slightly different, so there is always a little adjustment period when switching back and forth with anything really. The toughest thing for me was angles of the field goals. The hashes are much farther out and the goalpost are closer. That makes for some tough angles when I was used to basically kicking straight or slightly angled.
You’re a pretty physical kicker, not afraid to tackle and rough it up, does it bug you when you hear the stereotype of the soft kicker?
It doesn’t bother me. That goes with the territory. I like to mix it up with the tackling and stuff, but its mainly instinctual. Most of the time I don’t really plan on doing it, I just end up in the mix and hitting people (or getting hit). I hope that people see me as an athlete that can kick. That’s how I got into it kicking so I guess its fitting.
What are your thoughts on freezing the kicker? If you were in that situation, would the freeze time out even affect you?
I’ve seen it play out both ways. Sometimes it affects the kicker and sometimes it gives them an extra minute to calm down which in turn helps. I don’t think its a proven technique by any means. It’s a gamble because you never really know.
What our your thoughts on the Bills playing in TO?
I don’t really have an opinion on that. Everyone loves NFL football but I would hope the people of Toronto would get as excited about their own team if football is what they are in to.
When you came to the Argos last year, what were your first thoughts about Toronto in general? What were some of the immediate differences (cultural, weather(!), social, etc.) in Toronto than in Mississippi?
Toronto is much bigger city than I’m used to. I’m from the capitol of MS (population 250,000). Our downtown doesn’t even compare to Mississauga even. The entire GTA is overwhelming and traffic is much worse. I love the people and the rivers that run through. I was surprised at how warm it was when I first got there since all I had ever really known about Canada was that it was cold.
What was your first encounter with Pinball Clemons? Considering you’re both happy, positive people, I would assume you two would immediately click? Did he help you settle in at all?
Pinball is a great guy. He makes everyone feel welcome and I definitely enjoyed meeting him. Smiles are contagious and he’s a great guy to have around the organization.
Was there anyone else who helped you get used to the team and city?
It was nice having some American guys on the team. It’s comforting when there are other people going through the same thing you are going through. Also, our locker room is awesome and the Canadians make you feel right at home. You get so caught up in the team and the season that at times it doesn’t really matter where you are playing.
What was the team chemistry like in both 2012 and 2013? Are there any good team bonding/funny moments you can share with us?
Team chemistry is what got us to the Grey Cup in 2012 and what allowed us to host the East final in 13. At times, especially in 12, we were underdogs and outmatched but we had such a great environment in the locker room that we just clicked. It’s a big part of who the Toronto Argonauts are as a club.
How important was it to have Noel Prefontaine around? Has he been a mentor of sorts?
It was great. Pre is a good friend and I’ve had a blast kicking for him, with him and also him kicking for me. We kind of went back and forth with injuries and got to experience it on both sides. We were both each other’s biggest fans. He obviously is one of the great kickers of the CFL so it was nice to be able to pick his brain as a new guy in the league.
Now that the season is over, what’s a typical off-season day for Swayze Waters?
I serve on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in central Mississippi. I’m a Christian first and an athlete second, so sports ministry was the obvious answer for my off seasons. I love what I do. I get to work with local coaches and athletes and help them to use their platform of athletics to influence their team, school and community to Christ.
I also like to spend time with family and friends and anything outdoors (hunting, fishing, riding horses, etc)
I take a little time off right after the season to let my body recover and then slowly get back into lifting, running, and kicking to build up for training camp.
You’ve created your own website and blog, and the latest blog was great. Very motivational and inspiring. You ended your list of what the game has taught you with, “Football won’t last forever…” What are your plans after your football career is over? Also, religion is a major part of your life, and you use it as inspirations for yourself and to inspire others. Have you ever thought about becoming a motivational speaker/writer after football?
I would love to be a speaker/writer however I probably lack the talent for that. I would love to continue doing sports ministry with FCA and stay involved in sports that way. I would also love to start my own small business. I have an entrepreneur side that I think I’ll eventually have to test out.
You love the game so much, ever thought about coaching after your playing career?
Early in my career I thought I would get into coaching after playing, but I’m not so sure anymore. I respect coaches so much. These days, coaches put so much time in and it’s a real sacrifice they make for the team spending time away from family and staying at the office all night, etc. I am not saying that I would rule coaching out but at this point I think I could be more beneficial and would enjoy being a team chaplain better.
I’m sure you get this a lot, and though you are not named after him, how often is it that you get asked if you’re named after Patrick Swayze?
I get that question almost every interview. Especially when I am in new places. That’s the first place peoples minds go, “is your mom a big Patrick Swayze fan?” Well, the truth is, she is a big fan. However, that’s not who I’m named after! I started telling reporters that as a joke after I got sick of the question. It’s actually a family name. I’m named from my great grandmothers maiden name, which occurs pretty often down south.