Here in the city of Ottawa, it’s proven that the city has some of the best athletes. Some have gone all the way to the professional level, in football we have seen it in both the CFL and NFL but growing up in Ottawa these dreams that you may have to play in the pros don’t come easy and for the most part you play the game of football for fun and as a way to spend time with friends. Like many others those were all reasons why defensive back Nathan Casimir started playing football for the Orleans Bengals in NCAFA but it was much more than just to be around friends and to have fun. It was about the love he had for the game and to visions he had and still does have within the game of football. When asked about his early years playing football he had said, “I remember my very first practice with the Bengals, I had to race someone and if I had won the race I would have made the team and if I lost I was going to be cut. I won the race, made the team and from then on I had a awesome time playing as a kid.” Casimir had continued, “Football was something fun that I could do to compete against people from other areas and I really fell in love with the game.”
Falling in love with the game of football, Nathan Casimir found some success. In just his second season that he played he won the defensive MVP award on the 2012 Tyke Orleans Bengals squad, and continued to showcase his skills, making awards an annual thing. He won the Defensive MVP again in both 2013 and 2014 and even won the overall MVP award on his team in 2015 and 2016 while in 2016 he won the leadership award voted by players. The awards in youth ball in Ottawa are just significant proof that he is a hell of a football player, and one that loves the game and wants to have a future in it, “Just playing as a kid, it was very fun. I had the chance to play with my friends, play the game I love and most importantly show what I’m all about as an athlete and do it successfully.”
As an athlete, Nathan Casimir was not only able to show what he could do but also improve. In 2016 he enrolled into St Matthews High School in Ottawa where he was introduced to a football culture like none other. He was coached by the well known Jean Guillaume, as well as speed coach Iseah Montgiraud and coach Duane Bien-Aime. When talking about the experience he comments, “It was a great learning experience. At (Orleans) Bengals (NCAFA) I was always one of the best players on the team but then going to St Matthews there was Willy (Dimbongi, University of Ottawa), AK (Ismail, University of Ottawa), Chaz (Alain), Katley (Joseph, Maine University) and Kervens (Bonhomme, Indiana University) who when you look at them you can just say they are good. I got to learn a lot from them and one thing that I learnt through them and the coaches was that nothing is given to you. They all had to work for their achievements and at the time I was striving to be the best in Canada so I knew I was going to have to work hard to get there.” Nathan continued, “The first year playing for coach Jean and St Matts I was just in grade nine so I wasn’t a starter right away but I wanted to be. The first two games I didn’t get too much of an opportunity but in that third game I was put in the game for a couple of plays at a time and I gave it my all. I tried to make the most of my opportunity and it all went good from there, I remember Coach Jean said to me after the game ‘continue to do what you did today and you can keep the job.’ That for me just gave me another reason to keep working and I made sure to keep my starting spot.”
In his 2016 grade nine year with Coach Jean and the Tigers, Nathan Casimir impressed the entire Ottawa High School Football League, winning St Matthews’ rookie of the year award. This accolade was just one of the many he would get in the future but showed that he could play with anyone he said himself, “That gave me more to work for. I knew I could play with guys older than me and I wanted to be better than those around me.” To add to that his high school football coach from St Matthews, Jean Guillaume had mentioned, “Nathan Casimir is a player that strives to be the best. He has that hunger that you need in a football player and it showed in his freshman year being the first ever St Matthew Tiger freshman to start on a varsity team in 2016.” Wanting to be the best version of himself, Nate ended up making a name for himself in the city as one of the best players there is. Unfortunately due to an injury in 2017 he wasn’t able to return to the field right after his successful 2016 season but he didn’t hesitate to show the city what he’s all about when he was healthy again.
In his 2018 High School football season, just year two suiting up with the St Matthew Tigers he was named as the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player and was placed on the league’s All-Defense team where he was in the talks to be among the best defensive players in the city of Ottawa, though his job had just begun. “From 2018 on I’ve been starting to work harder in everything I do. Playing with guys like Kat (Katley Joseph) or AK (Ismail) and just seeing that it is reachable to go to the next level from Ottawa I made sure to do well in school and to keep improving on the field to get an opportunity, I think that the 2019 year helped me a lot to get to where I am still trying to get to.” Trying to get to where a good group of his former teammates are at now, the division one level in the NCAA or U-Sport level here in Canada, Casimir in his 2019 senior season with Guillaume’s St Matthews Tigers made sure to make his opportunities as open as possible going into the future. Doing just that, Casimir took his nickname, “Cash” to use and rallied up his St Matthews’ defense, having a total 73 Tackles, 13 interceptions and 13 all-purpose touchdowns. The kind of season Casimir had in his senior campaign was unreal, the entire city was amazed by the work he’d put in on the field and the league made sure to show it, he first was awarded Team MVP by Coach Jean Guillaume and the St Matthews Tigers, was placed once again on the All-Defense team, was in the voting for the High School Football League MVP and to cap it all off he had been placed in the defensive backfield on the 2010s All-Decade team. These stats he put up and accolades he received in the 2019 season were fantastic, it gave him the recognition he deserved as a football player and with help from his amazing coaching staff at St Matthews his name was able to reach the inbox of coaches around the country as well as in the United States, which many football players would call the land of opportunity. Although he hadn’t received any big offers or didn’t have any schools for sure interested in him, he knew he was close to getting to where he wanted to be and for himself all he needed was one opportunity to help build upon what he’d already started.
That opportunity ended up being able to play football across the border. Growing up as a football player in Ottawa Casimir had heard all about the idea to go play football in the United States, though his plans were always to achieve greatness where he already was which is in Ottawa though “I wasn’t where I wanted to be.” he said, “I worked so hard to get to where I was but I want to be great and I wasn’t there yet. Coach (Jean Guillaume) is a main reason for my success as a football player and he has done a lot for other players to help them play down south and to be a part of the group of players he took with him this year I am very grateful.” After his 2019 season in Ottawa, Nathan Casimir was still eligible to play one more season of high school football, and with all of the great connections that his coach, Jean Guillaume has, he was able to play this past 2020 season in Florida with the Clearwater Academy International Knights, coached by Jesse Chinchar. Over the years, the program has had a lot of Canadians, more specifically from Ottawa starting with Kervens Bonhomme, Akheem Mesidor and even having added Jean Guillaume to the staff a couple years ago they already found a successful connection with Casimir’s background and there isn’t a reason why they couldn’t have any success helping Nathan get to the next level.
Due to some travel delays and Covid-19 restrictions Nathan Casimir missed out on the start of the 2020 CAI season, though picked right up in his first game where he was able to score a touchdown off of a recovered fumble against the 48th ranked (Max Preps Florida rankings) Sandalwood High School. The touchdown in just his first game set the tone for the remainder of the year where he was able to total up 31 tackles, 14 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and of course the fumble recovery touchdown. In just eight games with the Academy, Casimir did all that he possibly can to prove that he could play with the best and he feels partially satisfied from the work he did, “It was an awesome experience. I’m thankful to be able to have had the experience to play there with some great teammates and a good coaching staff but with all of that aside I think I left my mark there.” Casimir states, “I played against some great players while I was there and I know a lot of them will remember me because I made sure that each receiver I was on that they wouldn’t have an easy catch.”
Not only will the opposing receivers remember him as a great competitor, but his coach Jesse Chinchar of Clearwater Academy will remember the player that he coached in Nathan Casimir. When he was asked about him the well known coach had commented, “Nate Casimir is a big time playmaker in the secondary. His versatility allows him to play all of the defensive back positions which provides a huge value to any team. He has some of the best feet I’ve seen on a high school DB and a back for finding the football.” Footwork is something you can teach and he can get even better with, but hearing about his ball skills, being a ball hawk isn’t something that you can be taught, you either have it or you don’t and for Nathan Casimir he has it. He is a great defensive back, and like Chinchar of CAI had said he can play everywhere in the defensive backfield, even though he isn’t a big player on the field, he is mentally. He isn’t afraid to go in for a hit, and on top of that he is great in coverage, some could call him a lockdown corner for his age and if anyone would it would be his longtime coach, Jean Guillaume.
Guillaume when asked more about Casimir, he takes away all of his coaching evaluation and looks at it from a human’s point of view and points out how good of a teammate he is, “Nathan demonstrates leadership and passion. He’s the one to bring spirit in our team and that’s what makes Nathan different.” He also went on to talk about his work ethic, “Nathan is one the hardest workers as he takes no breaks he will train constantly to master his craft. In his last year as a St Matthew Tiger he broke the single season interception and touchdown record for a Defensive Player in Ottawa as well as winning MVP on a undefeated 7-0 team. Nathan also won BEST OF THE MIDWEST (2020) and also won MVP at the MAROONS CAMP as well as a champion on the Track and Field Relay Team.” Nathan Casimir has used his speed from running track and his athleticism from playing football to be the best player of his ability and from his time at Clearwater Academy International a lot of people were able to recognize that, including Sports Illustrated All American writer John Garcia Jr who said, “He’s a football player. He shows that he is a do it all athlete and that’s something you see a lot of now. The game of football has been evolving like crazy and he’s adapted to it.”
In all, it is proven that Nathan Casimir has a love for the game of football and looks to continue to play at a high level in the future but he’s unsure if he will have the chance to. The 2021 recruit remains un-signed and without a division one offer, though he will not call it quits, “I’m going to just keep working and wait for the time to come because one thing that I’ve learnt in football is that the best of things come to people who wait and I know that I’ve done a lot of work that if the right person finds me, I will make the most of it.”
If the right person, and if the right team finds Nathan Casimir to play at the next level, they will be getting an absolute steal out of him. Being among the greatest defensive players from the city of Ottawa, although he’s listed as a cornerback Nathan can play all over the defensive back field and from watching a lot of film of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis he’s been able to mix a bit of what they do into his game. It shows a lot on film and makes the 5-foot-10, 170 pound defensive back even more exciting to watch with his strength and 4.58 (40 yard dash) speed.