BY JENN WEBSTER
Bryn Roy, an Alberta boy who successfully made the journey from cowboy to professional linebacker, is many things.
He was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League in 2012 and then played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2016 and the Edmonton Eskimos in 2017. He grew up in a rodeo family, which naturally transitioned Roy into roping, and bulldogging in the competition arena. And he’s a down-home guy who can still remember the first horse he ever swung a leg over, an Appaloosa named Chief. But perhaps most notably for a 30-year-old cowboy of his merit, Roy is an inspiration for other young, Canadian athletes who may want to follow in his footsteps.
“I know how hard it is to be a high school kid coming out of Alberta, wanting to pursue an athletic career,” Roy states. “It makes it tough to go on. There’s a lot of good athletes here who don’t necessarily get the exposure they need.”
This past spring, Roy put together the Bryn Roy Southern Alberta Football Combine and the response was overwhelming for the event’s first year out of the gate. Seeing a need for a Canadian showcasing event that allowed potential football hopefuls to perform physical and mental tests in front of a panel of scouts, Roy brought 25 universities and schools together this past March. He expects more to join the ranks in 2019.
“I started calling different universities, I had schools all the way from Calgary to Texas who came to watch that day. A few kids got signed and got scholarships and are now focusing on the next level! I’m excited about it,” he explained. “I feel that we are at somewhat of a disadvantage up here, because we don’t have the same opportunities American athletes have. And it’s based off numbers alone,” Roy stated.
“From what I’ve seen and what I’ve been able to prove, the good players up here are just as good as the good American athletes – there’s just not as many of them.” Roy says much of his motivation for developing the combine was inspired by his own history. Determined to rewrite the books for a new wave of athletes coming up, he wanted to create a venue that brought out the “right kinds of eyes” for young potentials.
“I wanted it so badly and eventually a way presented itself for me. But it took a lot of work and a little luck,” said Roy, who didn’t actually get to play organized football himself, until grade eight. In many ways, the odds were stacked against the rural Albertan to play professional football. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and all the nights of watching football highlights, and days playing catch and running routes at rodeos grounds across North America eventually saw him become a collegiate athlete on scholarship. Now with 6 seasons under his belt in the CFL, Roy has a lot of experience he hopes to be able to share with others who want to tread a similar path.
“It’s fun to be able to try and help guys who want to do what I\’ve done. The combine was my major emphasis of the spring.” For now, Roy is currently a free agent, which has afforded him the time it takes to put on such an event. Presently, he is already making plans for the 2019 combine, which will likely happen in February.
“I would love to potentially play for the next three years – or I may never play again. That’s the side of sport that not everyone sees. It’s so far out of my control that I don’t even have a good answer for the question of my immediate future,” Roy said with honesty.
Until the next combine, Roy will busy himself training young athletes at Built Strong Athletics in Okotoks, AB, continue to work as a day hand on several different Alberta ranches, and fit some movie work in when he can. There’s also the call that came in yesterday – to see if he’d be interested to play in a European football league.
He’s got some thinking to do.
Until such time as he makes his decision however, he’s enjoying his time at home near Dalemead, AB, getting back to his roots.
“Once the the combine got wrapped up this spring, I was siting there trying to figure out what my next step was. I missed all the spring training and getting ready, as far as rodeoing goes. But I had a few young horses in the pasture that I had been riding, so I decided to get back to that a little,” he told. “There’s this palomino in the bunch that is my favourite – we call her Honey. she was a fun filly to start. We got going with her and eventually, I put her on the Heel-O-Matic,” Roy said.
“Now she’s a three-year-old and I’ve roped a few live steers with her, all the while, taking it pretty slow. I’ve since ranched off her a little and she has been awesome, right from the get-go.” Having talent to fall back on is a gift for which, many people can only wish. And while rodeo still holds its arms open to Roy – he wants to ensure he scores every last opportunity out of football at the same time.
“I put rodeo on the back-burner for so long and I’ve lived on the cusp of it. I’m still roping and throwing steers down at home – but you only can play football for so long. I’ve worked hard for that and I’m going to try and squeeze every last drop out of it that I can,” he said. Adding, “But that’s the beauty of the combine. As soon as my career is done, I can help the new generation.”
With the powerful forces of football and rodeo pulling him in either direction, the decision of which path to choose at this point in his life ain’t easy. Yet luckily for him, Roy has meaningful work on the horizon. And a few good horses waiting in the pasture.
For more information on the 2019 Bryn Roy Southern Alberta Football Combine, stay tuned to his personal Facebook page and Instagram @bryn_roy16.