Fraser Caldwell | Ticats.ca
HAMILTON -- When Jeremaine Copeland speaks, the people around him tend to listen.
They should, considering that Copeland – who played in the CFL for 11 seasons – is a three-time CFL All-Star and a two-time winner of the Grey Cup. He left Calgary in 2010 after five sterling years of service that saw him amass 43 touchdowns and enjoy three seasons of over 1000 yards receiving in a Stampeder uniform.
Copeland played two more seasons in Toronto before his retirement in January allowed him to pursue something he’d envisioned since his childhood: coaching.
“I knew that I wanted to coach from when I was about eight years old,” says the ex-receiver. “It’s all that I used to talk about, was that once my playing career was over with I wanted to be able to give back and to carry on the thought process of playing the game.”
“The more info that I can give to someone else fires me up just as much as playing.”
|Player turned coach|
Copeland has been given the opportunity to share that knowledge this season, entering the Ticat fold as the team’s Receivers Coach and reacquainting himself with a George Cortez offence that he was a part of for three seasons in Calgary.
To look at him, the receiver-turned-coach looks very capable of suiting up to this day, and shares in the jokes and banter of his pupils. He appears as very much “one of the boys” among the Ticats playmakers.
Copeland believes that his experience and relative youth have lent him credibility with the receivers that he’s tasked with coaching. He knows – having played through the physical grind of a CFL campaign – what sorts of strains and pressures the young men around him are feeling.
“I definitely think that it helps out a lot,” says Copeland of his playing experience.
“They’ve got a lot of respect for me, which is a plus. Once guys have been out there and have played the game and know what’s going on, they know what your legs feel like throughout the year and what it takes to be successful and to continue to be throughout the year.”
“The young guys – the guys that I’ve got – respect me highly, and they want to learn something new every day. That’s what I love about coaching.”
Copeland’s knowledge keeps the Ticats receivers honest and focused, and he shares conditioning tips designed to help the players weather the physical challenge of the late season stretch.
“They can’t complain or back off and tell me that their legs are tired,” says Copeland of his players. “Because they’ve got somebody in front of them who has done it and knows what it feels like.”
“Week 17, 18, this is when things start to run down. But it comes down to contrasting between the ice tub and the hot tub, still working out to fatigue your muscles a little bit once in a while.”
Copeland has inherited an enviable stable of receivers in his first year as a coach, and he relishes the prospect of bringing his young players’ talents to full fruition.
“I’ve got a good group out there, and the best thing about it is that they have a lot of learning to do,” says the coach.
“This year, they’ve definitely proved to me that they can execute when it comes down to it. I’ve got some guys who can take it the distance, and some guys who know their role and how to be physical out there and take some punishment.”
“I’m looking forward to carrying on and making them the best professionals they can be.”
Copeland’s role extends beyond the Ticats receiving corps, as he can often be seen consulting with quarterback Henry Burris – the man who stood under centre during his five seasons as a Stampeder.
Burris’ familiarity with Copeland brings respect for his ex-teammate’s analysis, which the latter typically offers with regards to the specifics of route-running.
“We played the game together for a long time and he respects me as a receiver and as a coach,” says Copeland of Burris. “He’s always open for anything.”
“When I talk to Hank, we’re usually talking about his reads that he needs to go through, or what I might tell a receiver to do during a route to get open.”
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|