Welcome to Winterpeg, Willie Bombers star and family put down roots in city just in time for worst blizzard in 25 years
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Come on down to Winterpeg.
Star Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson, wife Holly, and their four-year old daughter Kelley moved from Texas to Winnipeg less than two weeks ago. Before the Jefferson’s could even finish unpacking, they have the pleasure of experiencing what is projected to be one of the harshest blizzards this town has ever seen.
And this town has had quite a few of them.
“Since getting here, I’ve run into some fans and one of the first things they say is we came at the right time and missed a horrible winter,” said Jefferson in a phone call with the Free Press.
“It turns out we caught a little piece of it.”
More like a bazillion little, white, fluffy pieces of it.
Fortunately, a friendly neighbour saved the day and lent Jefferson a heavy-duty shovel. No one would’ve blamed Jefferson, 31, for also asking to borrow a roll of packing tape for he and his family to put everything back into boxes and get the heck out of here. Jefferson said that won’t be necessary as it will take more than an April snowstorm to scare them away.
“We kind of figured that moving to Winnipeg we were going to have to deal with some bad weather, especially when it came to the snow,” said Jefferson.
“But it’s not that bad. I’ve been outside. It’s been colder… But the timing of it is pretty unimaginable.”
Bombers legend Milt Stegall got a kick out of Jefferson’s introduction to being a Winnipegger. The former wide receiver wrote on Twitter:
“Be safe #Winnipeg and someone please check on @Stmn_Willie_Bmn (Jefferson) and his family. HAHA.”
But as you can imagine, the Jefferson’s didn’t move to Winnipeg for the weather. He also isn’t the first big name defender to do so as linebacker Adam Bighill, a product of Montesano, Wash., put down roots in the Manitoba capital with his wife Kristina and their three children several years ago.
“The way the players generally are with the fans, the community, and the way the community is with our family, it makes it easy for us to be here outside of football. I know for me, moving back and forth during the season and after the season, it’s just easier being here in the offseason to handle business with your family and throughout the year without having to deal with bringing your family up from different places,” Jefferson said.
“Winnipeg is a nice city. It’s a nice atmosphere to grow your family, extend your family, and just do some things to grow as individuals. I like the city, the city likes me and my family, and I don’t necessarily want to go anywhere. Right now, Winnipeg is home.”
Bombers receiver Nic Demski, a Winnipegger, helped the Jeffersons move in. Jefferson quickly saw the rest of the Winnipeg crew — featuring running backs Brady Oliveira and former teammate Andrew Harris who signed with the Toronto Argos in the offseason — at a charity basketball game at Grant Park High School last week.
Jefferson believes the 24-year-old Oliveira is ready for the full-time promotion.
“I’m ready to see Brady perform. I’ve been seeing some good things from him this past week the way he’s been running and the way he’s been working out, flexibility and strength wise. I can’t wait for camp to see him do some things,” said Jefferson.
“I think he’s ready to step up into his purpose of being the starting running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and having his family and friends to support him.”
The other team owned by the Winnipeg Football Club, Valour FC, has already started performing as they opened their season last weekend on the road with a 1-1 draw against FC Edmonton. Winnipeg’s professional soccer club is heading to Victoria, B.C. this weekend to meet the reigning Canadian Premier League champions, Pacific FC, at Starlight Stadium on Sunday. Valour doesn’t play at home until May 1 when they square off against Forge FC — assuming Mother Nature gives Winnipeg a break by then.
Valour cancelled Wednesday’s practice session, but they hope to return to the pitch on Friday before flying out.
“This is crazy for everyone, even people from Canada,” said Valour forward and New Zealand native Moses Dyer, who returns home in the offseason. ”It’s unheard of. It’s April. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
It doesn’t make sense to anyone. But even though the snow is halting the team’s plans, Dyer said there’s no excuse for them to have a poor showing against Pacific.
“It’s not going to affect us at all. We’re still going to be ready for the game. We’re doing our work at home. It’s not going to affect us at all, and if it does, then that’s on us,” said Dyer.
“It’s all a mental game. We’re all fit enough, we’re all strong enough. It’s been a long preseason, so if this affects us, then we shouldn’t be footballers.”
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