Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Robb Bagg-Saskatchewan Roughriders

Last Saturday, Robb Bagg dropped by Mary Ann Sills Park in Belleville to watch a little football. His cousin, Matthew Mead, is the quarterback for the Bancroft entry in the Belleville Minor Football League.

As he was leaving the grounds at the end of the third quarter, Bagg quietly suggested to Mead’s father that he should carry out his fakes after he has handed the ball off to a running back, rather than watching the ball. He watched the game intently, with “football eyes”.

It is a game he has chosen to play professionally, and he will begin his fifth season with the Green Riders this coming season. But it was not always a football world for Robb Bagg. He played “AAA” hockey for many years, until Grade 11, in the Kingston area. He played a few exhibition games for the Voyageurs and Coach Evan Robinson, against the Wellington Dukes.

But it was on a sunny summer afternoon that he had a significant revelation. He was tossing the football in the backyard home of his grandfather, Bob Pearson. His grandfather told me that he knew Robb was a fine athlete. “I could tell that Robb had the makings of a fine football player. He had soft hands. He had participated in several track championships, so we knew he could run.” Bagg credits his grandfather for his move to football from hockey.

“At that stage of the game, I had had enough hockey. I was limited in the number of other sports I could play at school. When I left the “AAA” program, I played high school hockey at Frontenac Secondary School. That’s when I started to play football, in Grade 11, and lacrosse as well. I ran track too, and remember running the 800 metres at OFSSA here in Belleville in 2001.”

He told me that two of his high school friends excelled at that event. Dylan Wykes is a marathon runner. Nate Brennan runs the 800 meter event. Both have qualified to run at the Olympics in London this summer. Bagg played all of his university football at Queen’s. One of his team mates was Jimmy Allin, who starred in the Belleville Minor Football League. Allin went to Quinte Secondary School, then had an outstanding career at Queen’s. He is currently studying medicine in Brisbane, Australia.

Bagg hopes to spend this coming November preparing for the Grey Cup. He started for the Riders in the Grey Cup game in 2009, and had three catches for 27 yards, but was sidelined with a separated shoulder in the first quarter. He spent the entire season last year on the injured reserve list, recuperating from a knee injury. Bagg was most impressed with the play on the field in Belleville.

“This is really great,” he told me. “It’s nice to see us catching up with Canada West, as they have had similar programs for many years.” He chuckled when I told him that the most successful professional athletes to come out of the Belleville Football program are: Andrew Shaw, Andrew Raycroft, and Brad Richardson. They are all current NHL players, but benefited from the training at the minor level.

Bagg had to leave before the game ended, as he had a function to attend as a volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

James Hurst May 15, 2012

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