Cochrane born and former Calgary Stampeders fullback Rob Cote is calling it quits on his 11-year Canadian Football League (CFL) career.
Cote, who was born and raised in Cochrane, grew up playing through the Cochrane minor football ranks, which included a stop with the Cochrane High School Cobras. Cote, who announced his retirement on Jan. 23, said he wouldn’t have had a professional career without the support he received from the community.
“I think Cochrane’s a great place to grow up. Any place or small town is going to be what you make it. In places like Cochrane, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to make the right decisions,” Cote said.
“There’s a lot of people in this town that help the youth and that’s the part that I really appreciate. The fact that they put you before themselves in order to give you the best chance to succeed.”
After playing junior football with the Victoria Rebels of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL), Cote signed with the Stampeders as a 20-year-old in 2007. He went on to play 179 regular-season games – tied for eighth most in franchise history – and also appeared in 12 West Division playoff games and four Grey Cups. He was part of championship teams in 2008 when Calgary defeated Montreal 22-14 and in 2014 when the Stampeders upended the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 20-16. Cote was twice voted by teammates as winner of the Presidents’ Ring for excellence on and off the field and he served as a team captain for six years.
Cote said the last 11 years really gave him a chance to not only grow as a football player, but as a person as well.
“I feel like I’ve progressed immeasurably as a person as well as a football player. I came in and I was kid, I was just playing football for fun and it didn’t really have a purpose for me. It was never a goal for me to do what I’ve done,” Cote said.
“I’ve grown a lot as a football player, but more so as a person and a human being. I was given a lot of opportunities to go out in the community, meet people, hear stories and grow as a human being first. Not everybody gets the chance to be in the position that I was in. I’m really, really grateful for those opportunities to grow like I feel like I have and hopefully will be able to continue to grow.”
The local product’s first game with the Stampeders was June. 30, 2007 where Calgary handily defeated the Tiger-Cats by a score of 37-9. Cote would score his first career CFL touchdown during the game and he said he would have never imagined playing another 10 years in the league.
“At no point during my career would I have thought that I would be where I am today. I understand and appreciate how lucky I am to have had the career that I did,” Cote said.
Cote also mentioned that he was very lucky and blessed to be able to leave the game of football without suffering any major injuries.
“I think opportunity is when luck meets with hard work. I was given a lot of opportunities in my life and football career, but I worked very hard to seize that opportunity,” Cote said.
“That said, a lot of things have to go right. I never had any major surgeries, no major injuries to battle and a lot of that you can’t really attribute to anything other than some good fortune … I’m not such an egomaniac to appreciate the amount of luck I’ve had to have the career that I did.”
The former Cobras alumnus said he had many favourite memories as a Stampeder, but his first and final game at McMahon Stadium might top the rest.
“There’s so many memories. I guess it kind of depends on what you want to go with, I think the start and the end at McMahon Stadium was pretty special for me. The first game (against Hamilton) and scoring a touchdown … it was my first professional game and first game at McMahon, so that made it amazing,” Cote said.
“And then the last home game at McMahon last year (in the Western Final against Edmonton). At that point, I knew as much as I was going to know that it was going to be my last game (at home). I was just trying to take it all in. The crowd was going crazy, we had to come from behind and play a great game to earn a trip to the Grey Cup and it was a really special moment.”
Cochrane athletes have had a lot of success lately with Dillon Dubé winning a gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships, Tristan Walker and Mason Raymond being named to their respective Pyeonchang Winter Olympic teams and Cote wrapping up his successful football career. These four athletes have been instrumental in making Cochrane a recognizable town, even if Cote was quite modest when asked about it.
“I don’t know if I can elevate myself to that position. Those guys are doing some special things and Cochrane is a hockey town first, there’s no arguing that,” Cote said with a laugh.
“I think it’s been fun to have the ride that I’ve had and say very proudly that I’m from Cochrane and live very close to the stadium. I try to get back there (to Cochrane) every now and then to chat with the young football players and I hope to continue to do that.”
Now that the football portion of his life is over, Cote will be starting a new chapter.
“I’m starting a new job with the Calgary Construction Association in the next couple weeks,” Cote said.
“I’ll be the director of membership there … so I’ll be starting a real job quote unquote and then focus on being with my family and possibly taking them to tailgate at some Stampeder football games.”