We’re not the Vancouver Lions, we’re the B.C. Lions.
That was the message given to hundreds of Williams Lake football fans by Grey Cup champion receiver Geroy Simon, centre Angus Reid, defensive back J.R. LaRose and general manager Scott Ackles last Thursday in the Gibraltar Room.
The Lions, who were touring the province as part of a Grey Cup Tour through 20 communities, were greeted to a standing ovation from the Williams Lake crowd of around 400 fans.
“We’re bringing this all over the province to let you guys know that B.C. rules, and so do you guys,” Reid said. “You guys are a part of this just like we’re a part of this. We’re your team and we know you guys have been supporting us all year, so this is our way of saying thank you and bringing the cup back to you guys here.”
Simon, the CFL’s soon-to-be all time leading pass receiver, took the mic next.
“We don’t just represent Vancouver, we represent B.C. so we want to give an opportunity to see the cup, to take a picture with the cup and to touch the cup because just like we earned it, you guys earned it,” he said.
After a dismal start to the 2011 season B.C. sat last in the CFL with one win and six losses. The team, however, went on to win 12 of its next 13 games, including the Grey Cup Championship game over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The players also spoke Thursday about the importance of staying positive and not giving up on your dreams.
LaRose said he’s an example of a kid who was told he would never be a professional athlete.
“I’m a Canadian boy, raised in Edmonton … I’m standing here to say that I’m living proof that dreams really do come true,” LaRose said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. People said my whole life I wouldn’t be able to become a professional athlete, but I proved all those people wrong.”
Williams Lake resident Arnie Zimmerman has been a B.C. Lions fan since 1954 and was a season ticket holder for 15 years while living in Surrey. He said seeing the Lions and the Grey Cup, and having them visit the lakecity, was simply awesome.
Zimmerman even got an opportunity to give the Lions and audience his best Simon touchdown celebration impression and received a signed football for his efforts.
“It’s great to be here today to see some of my favourite B.C. Lions in person and to get a few signatures and a picture with the cup,” he said.
“It’s great they’re here and shows how much support there is in Williams Lake for the Lions.”