Saturday, April 04, 2009

Campus Corner: Not much fear in this one

Justin Chapdelaine may be the new kid on campus [Neate Sager, Out Of Left Field], but he's hardly intimidated. Of course, that might be a bit easier when you're coming off a spectacular high school campaign where you threw for 1,827 yards and 21 touchdowns, were named a provincial all-star and took your school to the AAA provincial final.Genetics can't hurt either. Chapdelaine's father is famed CIS and CFL player/coach Jacques Chapdelaine, while his mother Kim is a former track and field athlete [Dan Kinvig, Abbotsford News] who competed for Canada, his older sister Kaela plays for the women's national basketball team and his older brother Matt is his new teammate at Queen's.

Still, Chapdelaine shows a surprising amount of confidence for a rookie entering the famed Queen's football program. He said the tradition and history around the program is a motivational boost, not an intimidating factor.

"It's actually flattering being recruited by Coach Sheahan and hopefully being part of that tradition, being part of that history," he said. "I want to eventually win a Vanier Cup here and hopefully be part of the Hall of Fame here one day."

That's a bold claim from a rookie quarterback, but Chapdelaine has faced plenty of pressure at the high-school level and has excelled to date. He said pressure inspires him to greater heights.

"I love the pressure," he said. "It's motivation to me, you know. I want to be that person who always gets the ball off the snap and I want to be that person who makes the last pass of the game with three seconds left when you're losing by a few points."

Chapdelaine's father starred for the SFU Clan in the 1980s, but he said he was always more interested in going to a school outside of B.C.

"Oh yeah, I didn't want to stay in B.C," he said. "UBC and SFU weren't really schools for me; I didn't really like the team, the whole situation with the school and that kind of stuff. But out here, it's that I just wanted to get away from home. University, you want to get away from home sometimes. I wanted to get away from home but stay in Canada, you know?"

The Queen's program looks to be a good situation for the highly sought-after recruit, as he'll have the chance to study under All-Canadian Dan Brannagan for a year and then will have a good shot at taking over the starting role. Chapdelaine said he can learn a lot from Brannagan.

"He's a great quarterback," Chapdelaine said. "He knows the offence well and he has a lot of experience, so that's what I'm going to want to learn from him and hopefully bring to my game."

Chapdelaine said his years of high school football under Denis Kelly have prepared him for pressure-packed situations.

"Hopefully, I'll bring my game from what he's taught me to here and hopefully bring my own swagger to this team," he said. "We play American football out there, so I'll hopefully bring that American swagger."

[Note: You can see the full transcript of my conversation with Justin over at Out Of Left Field. I'll have another post later on my conversation with his brother Matt.]

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