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August 20, 2017

Bisons Camp | Deezar Leading By Example

The first thing that’s immediately noticeable when talking to University of Manitoba Bisons quarterback, Theo Deezar, is his infectious smile and positive outlook on life.

“I’m definitely not the most stressful person. I like to take life as it comes,” said Deezar after another day of Bisons camp this week.

“There’s a saying, ‘If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.’ That’s a good way to do it.”

That may sound like Deezar has been coasting through life, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. An example, the many years he spent growing and maturing at Winnipeg’s St. Paul’s High School – a strict, but fair all-boys university preparatory school.

“I probably at the time didn’t appreciate it as much,” Deezar said. “But now looking back, the disciplinary system that St. Paul’s provided was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

“I may have been in detention a couple more times than the other kids, but it was to study longer and work on becoming a better person. That’s one of the big things at that school – the development of self and development of the person, so I think that was huge.”

His alma mater was also a perennial powerhouse on the gridiron, dominating the Winnipeg High School Football League’s top division year after year. Deezar played a big role in keeping the winning tradition alive, becoming the first-ever Grade 9 student to earn a spot on the varsity team, en route to numerous championship victories.

The 6-foot-5 gunslinger credits high school coaches such as Shane Munson and Eugene Pacheco for helping him develop into the quarterback he is today. It helps that both were also former Bison quarterbacks, the former of whom led the herd to their first Vanier Cup appearance in 30 years in 2001 and still holds numerous team passing records.

It was maybe fate, then, that Deezar would one day follow in his mentors’ footsteps and take the reigns as starting pivot for the U of M.

“Deep down I always kind of knew that I was going to end up being a Bison and doing the whole Bison thing,” said Deezar, “so I’m glad I got that.”

Following the 2012 high school season, Deezar first chose to play for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. However, a coaching switch and fundamental differences with the new offensive system made him change his mind prior to the 2013 campaign.

It all worked out for the best, as Deezar wound up back at Manitoba, suiting up for the Bisons beginning in 2014. That season, while backing up standout pivot Jordan Yantz, he was able to learn what it took to win at the collegiate level, as Yantz led the squad all the way to the national semi-final.

“He was awesome to learn under,” said Deezar of Yantz. “And he was a good mentor in just the sense of knowing what it takes to be the man on the team.”

Now entering his third year as starter, the St. Paul’s standout has totalled nearly 5,000 yards passing and 37 touchdowns during his career. His development since arriving in 2014 is evidenced by his stats and his understanding of the game.

“I’m faster on getting rid of the ball,” he said, “and I’m personally stronger and physically stronger.”

While his accomplishments on the field are notable, it’s what he’s been able to do off of it while studying at the U of M that is arguably more impressive.

This May, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in economics and a minor in psychology. Now he’s working on getting a computer science degree and going into that job field, needing only 60 more credit hours to fulfill this task. This summer, he also passed a math course called vector geometry in linear algebra, which he called “pretty intense.”

In short, the man has a pretty impressive work ethic, and it’s something he hopes to instil in his teammates.

“I’m trying to add my own kind of swing on that, where you know guys are going to class and guys are getting degrees,” he said. “They need to know that there’s life after football, and getting into education is the best thing you can do for that.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t necessarily need help, but they need someone who’s going to be the standard of going to class, working hard, being the person who’s always upbeat and trying to stay positive, and I think the more guys like that we have on the team, the better we’re going to be.”

The quarterback’s love and desire for everything he does is infectious, but it’s also sincere. Just ask second-year pivot Des Catellier, who calls Deezar one of his best friends.

“On the field, he’s like a mentor to me. He’s seen it, he’s been the starter for two years,” Catellier said. “It’s somebody to learn from to see what he sees on the field and what he’s seeing on game day. I haven’t had that experience at the U SPORTS-level, game day experience, so to get that input from him is big on the field.

“Off the field it’s a brotherhood. It’s somebody you can talk to about with anything, go hangout and do whatever and talk whenever, he’s just like a brother.”

Catellier added that a big part of the Theo Deezar experience is the “upbeat, positive attitude.”

And those are two characteristics Deezar happily embraces.