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June 10, 2019

Maksymic’s Unique Journey Leads To Dream Job

Jordan Maksymic is not your typical football coach.

He played only two years of high school football – as a receiver and backup quarterback in Grade 11 and as the starting quarterback in Grade 12 with the Bellerose Bulldogs in St. Albert.

His dream of a professional coaching career didn’t materialize until former Eskimos head coach and general manager Tom Higgins got Maksymic a summer job as a water boy with the Calgary Stampeders during training camp in 2007 and he turned that opportunity into two seasons of breaking down film in their video department.

“It’s definitely unique,” Maksymic said about his journey to becoming a full-time football coach. “Most of the people I work with come from two paths – they’re either ex-players, or they’re guys whose fathers have been a part of football somehow, and they’ve come up through that ladder.

“I was very lucky to have been around great football people. … Without those people, I obviously wouldn’t be here. I learned so much from them, and I’m so thankful to have been under their guidance.”

Higgins, who lived down the street from Maksymic in St. Albert and served as head coach of the Stampeders from 2005-07, was one of those “great football people” who made a difference in Maksymic’s life.

“They’re a great football family,” Maksymic said about the Higgins. “I was so lucky to have them allow me to be part of the experiences here on this field (The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium) on game day and coming to practices in Calgary.”

Ottawa RedBlacks Head Coach Rick Campbell is another one. The hard-working Maksymic met Campbell when they were both with the Eskimos in 2011. Campbell invited Maksymic, who had been the Esks’ video coordinator or offensive assistant from 2011-13, to join him on the CFL expansion team as the running backs coach and offensive assistant in 2014.

And, of course, Eskimos head coach Jason Maas, who was the RedBlacks offensive coordinator in 2015.

“We spent numerous hours in meeting rooms and going over offensive football and coming up with the best ideas,” Maksymic said about his season with Maas in Ottawa. “There isn’t a whole lot of things that we haven’t discussed.

“We think the same way with this offence,” he continued. “I know the way that he thinks, and he knows the way I think, and it’s been a great relationship for five years.”

Maksymic, 32, is now in his fourth season as the Eskimos quarterback coach but added the title of offensive coordinator this year after also being the pass game coordinator in 2018.

“It’s just a little more say in the decisions with the game plan … and putting forward some of my ideas that we can take into a game,” he said about his new role this year. “Throughout the week, there’ll be a lot of things that we do as far as game-planning goes and as far as putting the plan together.

“Coach Maas is still our play caller. During the game, I’m up in the coach’s booth and Coach Maas, and I are in constant communication. We’re so much on the same page about our game plan and everything like that, so we just discuss the game as it goes on and go through our game plan and go through the next calls that we have up and decide whether they’re going to be good or not and then Coach Maas pulls the trigger on them and calls them.”

Maksymic grew up playing a variety of sports, including hockey until high school, and volleyball and basketball early in high school.

“I had a bunch of friends who went out and started playing football,” he said. “I went to a camp between my Grade 10 year and Grade 11 year and had a blast doing it. When Grade 11 started, I decided to give (football) a go.”

After high school, he agreed to help a good friend coach the junior football team at Bellerose.

“I didn’t think, at that point, I would ever move past high school football,” Maksymic said. “Then it was just a hobby. We were just out there having fun.”

He finished the first season as the offensive coordinator when another coach had to leave the team.

“That was actually my first time calling plays,” he admitted. “That was my first time doing a lot of stuff.”

Getting a chance to work in the Stampeders’ video department changed Maksymic’s life.

“In that role, you work closely with coaches,” he said. “That’s really what lit the fire for me, being around those coaches and seeing how they are and seeing the work that they do and learning from those guys.

“That was the start of my dream of becoming a coach.”

Maksymic was the football team’s video coordinator when he spent two years at Northern Arizona University as an “offensive graduate assistant.” After graduating in 2010, he sent his resume to CFL teams and landed the job with the Eskimos.

Upon returning to Edmonton in 2016, Maksymic was fortunate to spend two seasons working with Carson Walch, who served as the offensive coordinator in 2017 and is now the wide receivers coach with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

“The two years with Carson are probably the two years in my career where I learned more football, more Xs and Os than anything,” said Maksymic. “He’s a very intelligent guy; very good to work with.

“So much of the stuff that’s a part of this offence that we run every day came from Carson’s mind, and he taught us the ins and outs of it.”