The 2015 football season will be one of homecoming for all-star defensive lineman Donovan Dale.
The former Saskatoon Hilltop is returning to the city after playing for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for two years and will join the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team.
Dale, who was named best defensive lineman in the Canada West Conference during the 2013 and 2014 seasons that he played with UBC, turned to the U of S after being passed over during this year’s CFL draft.
“I actually did originally go talk to UBC to see if there was a way I could continue my education there, and it just wasn’t going to work out with feasibility and the program wasn’t as good there,” Dale said. “So when things weren’t working out with UBC, that’s when I decided it was time to start looking at other options, and so naturally the best option after UBC was to just talk to the U of S because I’m living here right now and everything would have worked out better that way.”
While professional sports can be a selective profession, Dale has taken his disappointment in stride.
“Yeah, it stung a little bit, but you can’t really let it affect you too much. Sometimes with the CFL it’s a funny thing because teams just don’t need your position that year. So the only thing you can really do is keep working and hopefully in another year they’ll be looking for a guy in your position,” Dale said.
Dale completed a kinesiology degree at UBC and has been accepted to do a masters degree at the U of S in the same field. This allows him to continue playing football at the collegiate level and remain relevant to the CFL.
This arrangement proves to be mutually beneficial for both parties involved. The U of S recently lost defensive lineman Timi Agbaje to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Dale joins Brayden Twarynski and Evan Machibroda to complete the Huskies’ defensive line.
“The Huskies team right now is really good. Their defence, their linebackers and their secondary are all veteran guys who have been playing together for a long time, and also a lot of the guys on the team are guys that I played Saskatoon Hilltops with years ago, so I have a lot of chemistry with those guys,” Dale said. “I’ll be stepping into a really good situation with them.”
While playing for a new university will be a different experience, it’s one Dale is looking forward to.
“One of the biggest reasons I went to UBC was because I thought their defensive line coach at the time was the best fit for me to make me the best player I can be. Now that I’m with a different defensive line coach, Aaron Moser at the University of Saskatchewan, it’s just kind of a different philosophy of coaching, it’s a different way of attacking things. So it will just be a good way for me to expand my repertoire and become even more of a well rounded player.”
For Dale, returning to Saskatoon is about more than just playing football. His entire family still lives in the city.
“I have five siblings and I am married, so when I was playing in British Columbia it was definitely hard for everyone to come check out games and stuff, so being home in Saskatoon will definitely be a nice change,” Dale said.
Despite his success, Dale has remained grateful and dedicated to the game.
[I’m] “just happy to be back. I hope everyone comes out and checks out a few games this year because I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”
The U of S Huskies kick off the 2015 football season with a home game on Sept. 4 against the University of Manitoba Bisons.