John Rush was in his room, aimlessly scrolling through social feeds during his rookie season in the Canadian Football League.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie’s phone pinged with a Twitter notification from one Tiff McLennan.
He’d been tagged in a hand-drawn picture of himself.
“Oh my god, someone drew a picture of me,” chuckles Rush a few years later. “For me, I’m this kid from Niagara Falls, and to have someone draw my picture I was like ‘oh, this is crazy’!”
It’s hard to quantify just how much McLennan, a 15-year-old from Yorkton, Sask., loves the Canadian Football League.
She counts the likes of Ricky Foley, Matt Black and the aforementioned Rush among her friends, watches whenever she can and loves the league so much she can’t zero in on a single ‘favourite’ team.
“I started to like drawing, (and) I liked football too, so I decided to draw some players,” explains McLennan, who was born with spina bifida and is wheelchair-bound. “People just really started liking them.”
“All the guys are pumped to get their pictures done,” laughs Rush. “They’re just like me, small-town kids from random towns and now we’re professional athletes — it’s kind of surreal when things like this happen.
“Tiff is able to make us feel special.”
The young artist from Saskatchewan is part of a larger community of CFL fans has existed on Twitter for a long time — one that does not go unnoticed by the legaue’s players.
“This niceness, this amazing family kind of community (that’s) going on,” I’m proud to be a part of it,” says Rush. “It’s cool to see this community grow and encompass those values we hold true as Canadians.”