Q & A
with Gene Makowsky
Thirteen must be the lucky number for alumnus Gene Makowsky, BEd'97. As the longest serving active Roughrider, Makowsky finally got what he's been looking for - a Grey Cup ring in his 13th season. The Huskie football alum has finally caught his breath after the Saskatchewan Roughriders Grey Cup win against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on November 25, 2007 and the Green & White caught up with Gene from Regina.
GW You received your Bachelor of Education here at the U of S. What do you remember most about your time in the College of Education?
GM I remember my internship - that's definitely where I learned the most. Being thrown into the fire like that was a real test, but it was great preparation for what lay ahead.
GW You teach during the off-season. Do the kids treat you differently because you're a celebrity?
GM Some of the kids are football fans, so they will ask me about plays or what we were thinking in a particular game. This year I'm lucky, because there are no questions about what went wrong!
GW You helped the Huskies win two Hardy Cup Championships in your time here. Are you still a Huskies fan?
GM For sure. I'm always up on what's happening with the Huskies. The other Roughriders and I like to banter about which University team is best, but since the Huskies are often on top, I usually get the upper hand! Many of us still identify with our College football program, so I'm a Huskie for life.
GW One season you were a U of S Huskie and the next you were a Saskatchewan Roughrider. What was the biggest change for you going from CIS to the CFL?
GM Well, there's the obvious- the players in the CFL are bigger, stronger, and faster than college football players. But I guess the biggest difference is that the CFL is a business, so there's a lot more on the line. If you're no good, you'd better find something else to do. The CIS is pure football. There's no such thing as a salary cap and the pressure to perform isn't as intense.
GW You're a fan favourite because of your Saskatchewan roots and your longtime commitment to the team. Is it true that you've never missed a game in both your Huskie and Roughrider careers?
GM Well, that's not quite true. I never missed a Huskie game in my four years, but I have missed some Roughrider games. I consider myself lucky because it's a tough game and I've never been seriously hurt.
GW You've now achieved your goal of becoming a Grey Cup Champion. What do you think comes after football for you?
GM I hope to play a few more years; I always wanted to do what I'm doing and still enjoy it. After football, using my degree to continue teaching is a definite possibility, but who knows what will happen. Only time will tell.
GW Each player had a chance to take the Grey Cup to places in Saskatchewan that mean something to them. Where did you take the Cup?
GM First I took the Cup to my son's school in Regina. Then a group of us went to Saskatoon and did a little tour with the Cup. We had a lunch to benefit the Huskie Football Foundation, and then I went to my old high school, Walter Murray, which was fun. That evening we took the Cup to the Saskatoon Blades hockey game. We also stopped by Saskatoon City Hall.
GW How will the team dynamic differ now that you have the Grey Cup under your belts?
GM Being defending champs is a new situation for most of us, and it's a title that all the other teams will want to take away from us. It's tough to win the Grey Cup back to back, but if we can keep the same core group of guys together and perform well with that pressure, we'll have a good shot at it. It's disappointing to lose Coach Austin, but unfortunately, that's pro sports - and opportunities to coach at your alma mater don't come along every day.