Four Cochranites have been inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame as members of the 1989 and 1990 Calgary Colts football team on June 2.
Current Cobras co-head coach and former Colts offensive co-ordinator Rob McNab alongside former Colts players Jeff Avery (who now serves as an assistant coach for McNab and the Cobras), Steve Dallison and Brad Kline were members of the Colts teams that won back-to-back winning both the Prairie Football Conference (PFC) and the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) National Championship. They were also the first team to win the Canadian Bowl Trophy.
In 1989, the Colts finished their regular season in fourth place, then shocked the Regina Rams and the Saskatoon Hilltops with wins to capture the PFC Championship. Next, they faced and defeated the Winnipeg Hawkeyes of the Manitoba Junior Football Conference before heading home to Calgary for the National Championship game. The 1989 Colts staged a final upset, as they out-played the favoured Burlington Tiger-Cats to take an early lead. Steve Thompson rushed for 214 yards and was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Canadian Bowl. The game ended with a 23-6 victory for the Colts on home turf over the Burlington Tiger-Cats and was the first national title for the team since its formation in 1965.
The following season, the 1990 Colts placed second in regular season play. Once again opposed the Saskatoon Hilltops in the playoffs, the Colts triumphed in overtime. The team then secured the Conference Title with a win over the Regina Rams. Next, the Colts travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia to defeat the NO. 1 ranked Surrey Rams and then to Winnipeg, Manitoba to defeat the Thunder Bay Giants to represent the west once again in the National Championships. Their playoff journey finished up in Windsor, Ont., where the Colts soundly out-played the Windsor’s AKO Fratmen to again win the Canadian Bowl trophy with a 50-15 victory.
McNab, who is making his second appearance in the Hall of Fame, his first being with the 1983 and 1985 Calgary Dinos teams that he helped quarterback to the Vanier Cup as Canadian University National Champions said it’s a huge honour to once again be inducted.
“It’s quite the honour and very humbling. Anytime you get put into a classification with athletes, teams or media people … it’s quite an honour,” McNab said.
“We worked very hard in those years and we had great success with those young kids. To see them up there smiling and get the chance to see old teammates and coaches from years past, there’s nothing better. This is the second time I’ve personally been inducted into the Hall of Fame (first time with the University of Calgary as a player) so it was very special.”
“For me personally it means a lot. I put a lot of heart and soul into those years and I know every player and coach from that team did the same, including the three former players from Cochrane … I was young and didn’t quite know what I was doing as far as coaching because I had just finished playing but we worked very hard and I had a great mentor in (former Colts head coach) Keith Kendal and (former assistant coach) Mike Lakusta also took me along. When you can see something come of your hard work, it’s awesome to see … most of those guys from that team have gone on to be great athletes, business men and fathers and it’s terrific to see that our team culture had a part in that.”
McNab also commented on how quickly the two Colts teams came together in order to be successful.
“We were a young coaching staff, almost all of us had just finished playing for the Dinos and Keith (Kendal) basically said that we were all coaching with him. We weren’t that much older than the kids who were playing,” McNab said.
“What an opportunity. My head was spinning and I just took what I had learned from the University of Calgary and put it into practice with the Colts. The kids just bought into what we were doing, we had some terrific athletes and we had quite the run winning two years in a row.”
“It’s another one of those terrific events I’ve had in my life and I’ve got to be very thankful for my family and getting to work with great people and kids over the years.”