Working for Grey Cup champions a ‘dream job’ for Perkin

Wallie Sears sdoherty@sackvilletribunepost.com
Published on January 10, 2017

Above, Wray Perkin is shown with his mother Dodie and sister Joanna following the Ottawa Redblack’s 2016 Grey Cup win.

©PHOTO SUBMITTED

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Wray Perkin says that the confidence level of the Ottawa Redblacks from day one of the opening of the training camp was such that winning the Grey Cup matchup over Calgary came as no surprise.

“We had just about every player back from the previous season when we came within a play of defeating Edmonton Eskimos for the championship,” he stresses, “and then we added some really good rookies to give Ottawa a team that is really built for the long run.”

Chalk up another first for Sackville and Tantramar Regional High School. Wray is the first local boy to make it at the professional level.  He serves in the key role of assistant equipment manager and as such deals directly with both the players and management.

With the Titans doing so well on the field they became a topic of discussion in the Ottawa dressing room as the guys would always ask how my team was doing from week to week, and the story of the Mounties in transition also became well known. Wray Perkin

His arrival at this level comes as no surprise. From the tender age of four he began his time with the Mounties, first as ball boy and, finally, to the position of team manager.  Along the way he did it all and became a vital cog while working under a series of coaches that included Marc Loranger, John MacNeil, Gord Grace, Rob Kitchen, Peter Comeau, Scott Fawcett, Steve Lalonde and Kelly Jeffrey. He even came from Ottawa to Hamilton to assist during the Mitchell Bowl game in 2014.

While he may bleed garnet and gold, Wray was always true to the Titan system and served there as special teams coach for several campaigns.

It was during these years that he bonded closely with Mountie all-time great Eric Lapointe and no doubt partly because of this he was invited by the Montreal Alouettes to help during their training camps and for three seasons he learned the trade to the point when Ottawa fielded its team Wray received an early call to come and put his knowledge to their advantage.

Asked to name the biggest difference in working with the Mounties and the pros Wray said you know from opening day the players that will be with the university team whereas there can be a constant change at the professional level. This means that in his job he must be prepared to welcome them and ensure they are properly equipped and provided withy some personal treatment.

Above, Wary Perkin celebrates with the Grey Cup following the Ottawa Redblacks’ 2016 win.
PHOTO SUBMITTED

While being part of a Grey Cup championship team may sound glamorous it also means a lot of commitment and hard work. A typical day begins at 7 a.m. in preparation for the team meeting at 9 and then the practice that starts at 11 and goes to 1:30. Wray’s tasks include working with the quarterbacks either snapping or catching the ball. Then comes the cleanup, which includes a pile of laundry as one might expect.

He says he is responsible for checking all the equipment and making any necessary repairs. So his responsibilities may last well into the evening on most days and it intensifies on game days. Games on the road present many more demands as the equipment managers are responsible for ensuring every possible hitch is handled.

In spite of such demands, Wray admits it is a “dream job” and one that a good many young men would love to have. His duties come to a conclusion just before Christmas each year, which allows him to return to university to complete requirements for bachelor of education degree at Acadia. He also has a BA degree from Mount Allison. And it has been learned that he will be completing the requirements for his second degree this year by practice teaching at his alma mater – TRHS.

Wray has a contract with the Redblacks running through next season and for the future – ideally he would love to land a high school teaching position where he could double as a football coach. And where would he love to locate? Where else but at Tantramar where he might help the Titans to continue their dominance of high school football.

Wray was first introduced to football as a tiny lad by his mother Dodie, who has been his chauffeur over the years as they seldom, if ever, missed a Mountie game at home or away. She continues to offer full support and Wray says it was nothing short of wonderful to have her with him for the Grey Cup. And he is looking forward to sharing the same honour in 2017, as the Ottawa team is ready to defend.

It was interesting to see Dodie, Wray and sister Joanne on social media following the 2016 Grey Cup game – further evidence of the family closeness.  Father John, university chaplain, makes it to Wray’s games when time from his duties permits.

Although Tantramar Regional High School graduates some fine football talent, it is highly unlikely few will ever pursue a professional career so Wray may go down in history as Sackville’s only Grey Cup winner. However, Lapointe, who became a Sackville fan favourite, played on Grey Cup championship teams in Hamilton and Montreal. While not a native, he was presented with a certificate of appreciation by town council for the manner in which he brought fame to our community.

An interesting side bar to this column is the fact that Wray, in Grade 1 at Salem School, took Lapointe on “show and tell” day and this proved to be the highlight of the event. They have continued as little brother and big brother over the years and the player has often been seen at the Perkin home as he became a family favourite.

So Wray has also brought a focus on our community.

“With the Titans doing so well on the field they became a topic of discussion in the Ottawa dressing room as the guys would always ask how my team was doing from week to week,” he said, “and the story of the Mounties in transition also became well known.”