McCullough humbled to snap up award
Budovitch Award | CFLer home to accept award as top local
By Bill Hunt
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Wednesday May 4, 2011
Appeared on page B1
Dan McCullough thought it was a joke.
The 28-year-old Fredericton native will be in a suit - and somewhat
out of his element - Saturday night when he steps forward to accept the
Myer and Jack Budovitch Award as Fredericton's athlete of the year for
It's part of the 20th annual Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame
celebration, an evening that will have something of a football theme as
Terry McIntyre - whom McCullough refers to as "The Godfather of
Football" in Fredericton - is enshrined as part of the induction
The other honourees that evening include the Ecole Sainte-Anne girls
volleyball teams from the early 1980s that won New Brunswick
Interscholastic Athletic Association A, AA and AAA titles; ECHL
commissioner Brian McKenna, a Fredericton native; longtime FHS women's
basketball coach Steve O'Rourke; the late Roy "Hammy" Kitchen,
who managed softball and hockey teams in Fredericton in the 1950s, '60s
and '70s, and multi-sport athlete Pat Dobie.
Longtime volunteer Kim Hepditch will accept the Bill MacGillivary
award as Fredericton's sports volunteer of the year as well.
McCullough, the six-foot-three, 240-pound long snapper with the
Canadian Football League's B.C. Lions, is humbled to be in the company
of such luminaries, and to be accepting the award as Fredericton's top
"I had no idea that I was even being considered," said the
affable giant. "You look at previous winners like Marianne Limpert...she's
an Olympic medallist. To be even mentioned in the same sentence is kind
McCullough, who works in Fort MacMurray, Alta., in the off-season -
the idea is to accumulate as much money as possible so he can return to
Fredericton whenever his professional football career ends - said he got
an email from his mom telling him he had been selected by a panel of
Fredericton sports media.
"At first I thought "OK, is this some kind of a cruel early
April Fool's joke or something?" he said. "But it turned out
that it was true."
McCullough has quietly forged a pretty good professional career. He
appeared in all 18 games with the Lions last season as a long snapper
and signed a new contract with the club in the off season. He came to
the game relatively late - he was a 13-year-old Grade 8 student who
accompanied his best friend to practice one day and was convinced to try
The man who did the convincing? One Terry McIntyre. McCullough won't
mind sharing the spotlight Saturday night.
"Honestly, it means more than a lot of people would know,"
said McCullough. "I wouldn't even be dreaming of where I am today
if it wasn't for a guy like him. He was the first football coach I ever
had, but honestly, the relationship only started there. I honestly
didn't know two things about it. I just kind of showed up one day and I
fell in love with it right away and never looked back really."
What appealed to McCullough most was "the violent aspect of
it," he laughed. "It sounds a little sadistic, but flying
around and hitting people and being hit...I think that was kind of the
thing that kept me in it."
It paid off in a fine football career at Fredericton High School
which saw the team retire his number last year, a five-year stint at
Bishops University in Lennoxville, Que., and now a good career on the
"I have bigger expectations for myself this year," said the
28-year-old veteran. "You always have the dream of getting on the
field on defence. I'm a defensive player and that's what I want to do.
But you just go to camp and see how everything plays out."
As a Maritimer and the only native New Brunswicker in the CFL,
McCullough will watch Atlantic Bowl II, the Sept. 25 tilt between the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders, with interest. He believes
Moncton "would be the perfect spot" for an Atlantic entry in
"You could get people coming from Halifax, Truro, Fredericton,
Saint John...I think a team could float there. In B.C., we're averaging
27,000 a game. With those surrounding areas in Moncton, there's no
reason we couldn't get that many people to every game."
McCullough would be a natural fit if a New Brunswick franchise were
ever launched. His plan is to come home once his career winds down,
"buy a house and fall into something later," he said.
Meantime, he'd like some company in the CFL this season. Fellow
Frederictonian Justin Conn, another Bishops' alum, will go to camp with
the Montreal Alouettes this season, and another former FHS star, Ben
Thompson of Montreal's McGill University, is eligible for Sunday's CFL