Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris talks to minor football players at a practice at Oromocto High School field Tuesday. Burris was in town to help promote Touchdown Atlantic II in Moncton. The Stampeders will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the regular season CFL game Sept. 25 in Moncton.

Burris back to his roots
CFL quarterback | He feels right at home with local players at grid practice

By Christopher Cameron

Every professional athlete has to start somewhere and for Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris, being able to attend a Capital Area Minor Football Association practice on Tuesday meant as much as his Grey Cup ring.

"It means everything because I was here during my childhood working on my game, to hone my craft, and to hopefully reach my dream of where I am today," he said. "This is what it is all about and just letting them know that any dream they have can come true. I came from the same setting, from a small town, and I had physical challenges, being the small guy, but I worked through it and everything paid off the end. I just wanted to let them know that."

Burris travelled to Fredericton after the Touchdown Atlantic ticket announcement earlier in the day in Moncton.

In his first trip to the Maritimes, the CFL's Most Outstanding Player for 2010 felt at home when he stepped onto the Oromocto turf field and saw the community surrounding the athletes as they practiced.

"I'm loving it because it's similar to where I grew up," he said. "Community supports community and when I come out here and I see all the people out here supporting these kids, it says a lot about this area. That (support) gives kids confidence and I love to see that type of environment as far as family like and community like environment."

Although his focus through Touchdown Atlantic is being able to give back to the area, he discussed how big it was to be involved in the East-West battle.

"It's huge, but of course we were like 'why didn't they pick us for part one'," said a grinning Burris. "They picked Edmonton and so we've got to fix Edmonton's dirty business and win one for the West. The ovation of the way the people here absorb the game and the celebration and the festivities throughout the week. It was definitely like a Grey Cup out here last year and to be selected to be a part of it this year is truly an honour."

Having missed the Grey Cup for the past two seasons, losing out in the Western Divisional Final to Saskatchewan, Burris believes this game will be a great chance for the Calgary Stampeders to prepare for a potential trip to the league final.

"Anytime you get to play against a team that you could see in the Grey Cup you want to give it your all just to hopefully get that upper hand on them, that confidence," he said. "When you're playing a game in such a special environment and a special situation that is almost like a Grey Cup you're fortunate to have that experience."

Burris continued, discussing his teams chances of making it back to the Grey Cup.

"We'll be up there battling again," said Burris. "We just got to get over the hump. We just have to win two more games. That's all I've been telling people. That's my goal for the season, is to win two more games. Our team is still suffering from that loss against Saskatchewan and so the burn is going to help us out I think. It's going to help us get more prepared with a hunger and fight to get over the hump."

Burris believes the CFL's move to Atlantic Canada is a good one.

"I feel they need a team out here," said Burris. "I feel that doing some of the right research and getting the right ownership group together and using all the resources they have out here to bring people together to support a franchise is definitely possible."

"The people definitely out here deserve one because you can definitely see the love for football is in the air and the football programs keep getting better for kids...the only thing that is needed is a team."

For now, Burris' focus is on the eason and being able to give back to New Brunswick football when he returns in September.

"I can only imagine what it's going to be like when we come back and are hosting all the amateur games up in Moncton and in Fredericton as well. Helping the kids to get better as players and as people will be rewarding and that's what it's all about."