Former Cowichan Bulldogs quarterback Nick Bynkoski got to experience what it means to be a Canadian Football League player when he took part in the Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp last month.
“It was a big eye-opener, just with how professional it is at that level,” said Bynkoski, who plays university football for the Acadia Axemen.
The days were long at the Riders camp: players were up at 6 a.m. — breakfast, practice, film, lunch, more film… — and didn’t get home until 10 p.m.
“It was like football, eat, football, eat,” Bynkoski said.
Bynkoski attended the camp as part of the CFL quarterback internship program, a partnership with Canadian Interuniversity Sport. His coach at Acadia made the arrangements for Bynkoski to go.
“It was something I was really interested in,” he said. “I’d been talking about it with my coach during the season, and everything worked out nicely.”
As much work as it was, Bynkoski thoroughly enjoyed the camp.
“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life as far as football,” he said.
Among the highlights was getting tips from Roughriders quarterbacks Darian Durant — a two-time Grey Cup champion and two-time CFL West All-Star — and B.J. Coleman.
“It was awesome learning from them,” he said.
Bynkoski came away from the camp confident that, with a few improvements to his game, he could be challenging for a CFL job in a few years.
“My goal is to reach that level,” he said. “It showed me that I really do have a chance to get to the next level, and with more experience, I will be able to do that.”
Bynkoski played his first season at Acadia in 2015 after three years at NCAA Div. II Fayetteville State in North Carolina. He has two more seasons of eligibility at Acadia and will be competing for the starting quarterback job this fall. His goal this season is to win the Atlantic University Sport division and try to reach the Vanier Cup final.
Bynkoski got his start with Cowichan minor football and played with the Bulldogs from Grade 5 until Grade 11. His journey to the Roughriders camp is proof that talent doesn’t get overlooked.
“As long as you put in the work and have the skill, it doesn’t matter where you are,” he said. “People will find you.”