A football player was feted this weekend in the rink at Powell River Recreation Complex decorated to look like a wedding reception for the annual Dream Auction and Golf Tournament.
Jesse Newman was special guest for the event that raises funds for Powell River Kings Hockey Club and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He is currently a member of BC Lions football team, having been traded last season from Calgary Stampeders. Lions won their first game of the season last Friday.
Powell River sports aficionado Josh Statham introduced the 308-pounder. He mentioned that most athletes from here who went on to play professionally were hockey players. “I am here tonight to introduce a young man who achieved his dream of becoming a pro athlete, not on ice with skates, but on the gridiron with cleats.”
Newman always dreamed of being a professional football player even though growing up in Powell River he never had the opportunity to play youth football here.
He had to leave his hometown to play and soon was on the offensive line in Victoria for the Junior Rebels. Not long after graduating from the youth football program, Newman became the first Canadian ever to play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division One University of Louisiana Lafayette where he was a four-year starter for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He earned First Team All-Conference honours in his senior year. After graduation he reached another milestone when he was tabbed third overall in the 2007 Canadian Football League draft by the Stampeders.
Newman made an immediate impact on the offensive line, entrusted to protect star quarterback and team most valuable player Henry Burris, a daunting task for a rookie lineman. Newman and the Stampeders would go on to win the team’s first Grey Cup since 2001.
After a brief retirement, Newman was traded by Calgary to the Lions team midway through last season. It was a roster move that coincided with the BC Lions’ turnaround from a one and seven start to a playoff berth and an improbable first round win.
“Jesse is living proof that despite adversity, dreams do come true,” Statham said.
In his remarks, Newman expressed his appreciation to Powell River and credited his mom, Judy, for her unwavering support in helping him achieve his dream.
Organizers said Tuesday they were still figuring out the dollar amounts but were happy with the results of the annual event. Planning for next year will start in September. “Sponsors were great, the silent auction looks like it was better than last year and we attracted a good number for golf,” said Kings executive member Doug McCormick.