For the first time since 2008, Gord Hinse and Simeon Rottier will don Green and Gold uniforms together. The two former University of Alberta Golden Bears’ offensive linemen have been reunited in the professional ranks of the Canadian Football League, and on Saturday, June 30th, they will lumber onto the field at Commonwealth Stadium as members of the Edmonton Eskimos’ offensive line.
Hinse, from Edmonton, and Rottier, who is originally from Westlock, Alta., played together on the Bears’ o-line between the 2007 and 2009 seasons before both getting drafted in the 2009 CFL draft. Rottier made Golden Bears’ history when he was selected first overall in the draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The 6’6” Rottier was with the Ti-Cats from 2009-2011 and then signed a free-agent contract with his hometown Eskimos. Hinse, who recently graduated from the Faculty of Native Studies at the U of A, was drafted in the second round by the Eskimos, just 10 spots after Rottier.
“It’s huge. It doesn’t get better than this. I’ve got an opportunity to start a CFL home and season opener for the team I grew up cheering for, that doesn’t happen very often,” noted Hinse.
“It’s pretty exciting that it’s finally happening,” said Rottier. “Since February, when I signed with the Eskimos, it’s been a lot of preparation, and now it’s nice to get everything going finally. It’ll be a pretty emotional game, but you have to treat it like every other game and not get too high or too low.”
The two linemen forged a close friendship during their time with the U of A’s Green and Gold gridiron squad, a relationship that they maintained despite being separated by two provinces.
“Sim is one of my best friends. It’s been great to have him back, and not have to phone him in Hamilton all the time,” stated Hinse. Now, when we’re not on the field, Sim and I lift weights together, and we watch film together and really help each other out,” said Hinse.
Along with their former U of A offensive line coach Tim Prinsen, who now handles the same duties with the Eskimos, the ‘power-trio’, as Hinse has coined them, has been reestablished.
“It’s really cool to work with them again, it brings back some pretty great memories of good times past,” said Prinsen. “The good thing is, they’re both hard-working guys and the effort they give is very contagious.”
“Coach Prinsen is a great coach, and when I found out he was going to be the offensive line coach here, and that Simeon had signed here, I was pretty ecstatic,” said Hinse. “Sim’s playing style is awesome, he’s pretty aggressive, which is my style and the style coach Prinsen wants, and I think that we play well together. It’s great having the Golden Bears’ power-trio back together with the Eskimos.”
“The work ethic and passion for the game that those guys have is incredible, and it definitely rubs off on the rest of the guys,” noted Rottier. It’s pretty special to be back together with them. It’s cool to see the amount former Golden Bears that are now in the CFL and especially with the Eskimos, it’s a testament to that program.”
They’re not the only former Golden Bears’ on the Eskimos, or in the CFL either.
Former multiple time CIS All-Canadian kicker Hugh O’Neill remains with the defending Grey Cup champion BC Lions.
Dale Stevenson, who played numerous positions for the Golden Bears’ during his five-year CIS career, is transitioning to the offensive line with the Eskimos, which makes it four former Bears involved in the Eskimo o-line, although Stevenson will start the season on the injured-reserve. Also with the Eskimos are former coach Terry Eisler, who works with Edmonton’s special teams, as well as graduates, and former Dr. Joan Matthews-White pupils, Denzil Ottley and Brennan Mahon, who both serve in the physio/trainer areas with the Eskimos. Veteran defensive back Brent Krawchuk works with the Eskimos’ equipment staff as well.
“I’m thankful for all the people, especially the coaches and trainers at the U of A, which have helped and supported me along the way,” said Rottier. “When I was still with the Tiger-Cats, I came back home in the off-season and saw Dr. Joan Matthews-White about some issues, and she and Dr. Naidu took care of me like I was still a Golden Bear, and I’m just very thankful for that and that program. I wouldn’t be where I am today with the Golden Bears.” finished Rottier.