Since 2014 when the Ottawa Redblacks came into existence, the team has always had a number of local players on the roster. The talent in the Ottawa/Gatineau region has constantly been growing since the team came into existence as young athletes get to see a professional team play in their hometown and build inspiration to work harder at the game they love most.
2014 was a big year for the city of Ottawa obviously because the city was back in the CFL and the region was loving the Redblacks, although when things really started coming together for the Redblacks organization was in 2015 when Marcel Desjardins and the front office drafted Alex Mateas. Watching an Ottawa native go number one overall in the CFL draft, let alone go to his hometown is a big motivator for the younger athletes in Ottawa and since then the talent has never stopped growing.
To see Mateas comeback to Ottawa, where he grew up opened eyes for Redblacks fans to see who else from the area is on the team. Moving into 2020, the Redblacks have a list of players from the Ottawa area. Of course the team still has Alex Mateas, and along with Mateas Ottawa has Brendan Gillanders who mostly grew up in Orleans and went to Ottawa University to play for the Gee Gees, Ettore Latanzio who also played for the Gee Gees following a childhood in Barrhaven, also among the Gee Gees alum is Brad Sinopoli and Lewis Ward who grew up just down the highway from Ottawa (Ward from Kingston, Sinopoli from Peterborough). Ottawa also has a group of players from the other side of the Panda game rivalry from Carleton like Justin Howell, Nate Behar (free agent), Nate Hamlin, Dan Omara and Kene Onyeka.
All in all, from that list you can see just how important local talent is for the Ottawa Redblacks and when asked about it, Redblacks’ director of player personnel Jean-Marc Edmé mentions, “Ottawa talent is a big part of who we are as a team. Being from Montreal and seeing the talent in Ottawa, for some reason the talent just gets better every year.” He comments, “The talent in the area, whether its high-school, college or any other level its very strong. This year the city will have an Ottawa native going first round in the NFL draft. The big defensive lineman Neville Gallimore from Oklahoma is just one of many Ottawa guys to play college football and go pro.”
Going pro is the last level to go to for athletes and to get there they go through some great organizations, “Ottawa has a great group of high school programs, and I really think we’re going to see a lot more local guys not only with us in Ottawa but all over the CFL and in the NFL also just because of the rising talent here.”