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April 22, 2019

CFB Wainwright Visit Motivates Eskimos Players

Whether it’s in Europe or locally in Alberta, visiting a Canadian Forces Base is always special for Eskimos long-snapper Ryan King.

Part of it is because his grandfather, Robert McMinn, served more than 40 years with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Part of it is because he respects the huge sacrifices the soldiers are making to keep not only Canada safe, but also troubled parts of the world.

And part of it is the connection King sees between the military and professional football when it comes to the need and commitment to be in peak physical condition for what lies ahead.

The latter point was driven home once again when four veteran players – King, defensive lineman Almondo Sewell, fullback Calvin McCarty and linebacker Blair Smith – paid a visit to CFB Wainwright during the recent Edmonton Eskimos Community Tour, presented by Tim Hortons.

The Eskimos organization is very supportive of the Canadian military.

“We watched a male and a female officer go through the fitness test to see how they’re graded to military standards,” King said. “They were both high-ranked fitness-level individuals, so they were working hard. It was very motivating for us to keep working hard, too.

“We can relate because they’re accountable to their fitness levels and they’re always trying to get better,” he continued. “That’s the same mentality that we have. We’re both very motivated and very passionate to do the best we can.”

The Eskimos, of course, are getting ready for the 2019 CFL season, with training camp only a few weeks away (medicals on May 18, the first day of practices May 19).

“Of course, everyone is working out lots,” King said about the Eskimos players. “Everyone is ramping things up because we’re getting close to the season. Obviously, the weather outside is helping a lot. We can get on the field now.”

The highlight of the Eskimos’ visit to CFL Wainwright was using the firing range simulator with the military personnel.

“We were shooting some serious weapons,” said King. “You don’t often get to use military-grade weapons which were scoped out and fully loaded with all sorts of stuff. It was really cool for all of us.

“Basically, they have this highly advanced technology where you can shoot live weapons on basically a video game,” King explained. “It’s like the coolest video game you could ever play.

“They could put you through different scenarios. We only did range shooting, but if we had more time, we could do all these kind of things that are used to help prepare the troops before they get deployed.”

While the weapons had been converted for use in the simulator, King said they still functioned the same way.

“You still get the recoil and the noise. You still load it the same way, change clips the same way. I was sweating.”

The Eskimos also received a tour of CFB Wainwright, including the command centre.

“It’s a huge military base,” King said. “It’s recognized around the world. There’s a lot of pre-deployment training here. There are a lot of scenarios they can map out.

“It was a lot of fun. We learned a lot. We had lunch with a bunch of the guys who are training right now. They’re about to be deployed, so that was interesting to talk to all of them and hear a lot of their stories before they take off.”