For Toronto resident, Shawn Gore, winning the Grey Cup turned out to be much easier than prying the treasured Canadian Football League (CFL) symbol of supremacy away from Vancouver.
The slotback was a member of the British Columbia Lions which roared back from an 0-5 start to win the 99th Grey Cup last year with a 34-23 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
It took Gore two meetings with the club’s president and ownership to convince them that the Cup should come to this city with him for two days.
“I had to fight and make a real convincing case for this to happen,” said Gore at a reception at New Dawn Moravian Church last week. “But it was worth it because this is my home and this is my community. I wanted to share it with the people I grew up around and who supported me and also with school kids to inspire them. That was much more meaningful than bringing the Cup here and aimlessly parading it around town. That just didn’t make sense.”
The Lions stormed back after the disastrous start to win 13 of their next 15 games and their sixth Grey Cup.
“It was difficult at the beginning, but we stuck together in the same way that we do in this church,” said Gore who has been a member of New Dawn for most of his life. “We didn’t blame anyone. We just pulled together and rallied as a team.”
The Bishop’s University wide receiver was drafted 10th by the Lions in 2010. He signed as a free agent with the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers on the day of the draft but was released in August 2010 without ever playing an NFL regular-season game. He signed with the Lions a few days later.
Gore caught 60 passes for 836 yards last season and three for short yardage in the Grey Cup.
The 2010 Antigua & Barbuda Association of Toronto scholarship winner is looking forward to returning to Toronto later this year for the 100th Grey Cup.
“That will be huge and I have my eyes on it,” admitted the former Don Mills Collegiate student who transferred to Newtonbrook Secondary School in Grade 12 to play football. “Our team is looking good and I think we have a great chance of returning to the final. What else can be better than playing for the championship in front of family and friends.”
Gore was born in Toronto to Antiguan parents Lyndon Nibbs and Cassandra Gore.
Antigua & Barbuda consul general, Janil Greenaway, attended the ceremony at the New Dawn church.
“Though you are a young successful Canadian, we share in your success because you are of Antiguan parentage,” she told Gore. “We are very proud of you. You carry the Canadian flag, but you also carry some of the Antiguan pride with you and we are really proud of that.”
New Dawn pastor Rowan Simmons praised Gore for putting the church family first.
“Shawn is the one that suggested that the Cup should come to the church and some area schools,” said Simmons who has been at the church for the past four years. “We are deeply honoured. He’s so humble and religious and before every game, he would call and ask for prayers. Shawn is a role model for our young people in the church.”
Toronto Police 13th Division’s Sgt. Mike Matic helped Gore unpack the Cup from its secured case and he and other officers provided an escort into the church where members of the congregation and community were waiting to congratulate Gore.
“It’s an absolute honour for us to be here today to welcome home a champion,” Matic said.
By RON FANFAIR