Matt McGregor has always found that the best way to make a difference is to put himself smack dab in the middle of his most passionate pursuits.
As the huddle broke with a unison clap this season for the football team at Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, McGregor could be seen — in the midst of 21 other players — stepping up over the ball as the starting centre, ready to snap his team into action.
Yet while McGregor played a big role in helping the Hawks contend for the B.C. Subway Bowl Triple A titles throughout his high school varsity career, it is as much what he did when guided by his inner convictions and not the cadence of a snap count, that truly speaks to the character of a big guy with a big heart.On the evening of Oct. 4, on his high school field, McGregor stood with his teammates prior to a big home game against rival Terry Fox and listened as a letter he decided he had to write was read to the crowd by the public address announcer.
“Think of the women who could be affected by this and how you would feel if it were your mom or your grandmother,” McGregor wrote as way to get his message across that October was the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. “How hopeless would you feel?”
Said McGregor afterwards: “My grandmother had breast cancer twice and she has lived through it both times. I just feel that as an athlete, I need to put myself out there. This is how the NFL, the college and even the high school teams can make a difference.”
For McGregor, however, the biggest way to make a true difference is to snap into action all year long.
Throughout the summer, he helped young kids at a six-week summer camp.
And just recently he has begun giving time to his local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, serving as a mentor to a young student at Howe Middle School.
Of course, all of this is in addition to doing whatever it takes to help the Mouat football team thrive.
“He is constantly working with our junior varsity players,” says Mouat senior head coach Denis Kelly of McGregor who also starts at defensive tackle and is the Hawks’ long snapper. “And he helps them not only on the field, but off of it as well. Matt is also our leading fund-raiser, no matter if it’s for a trip, new uniforms or new helmets. He is a motivator, and such a reliable leader for us.”
But what most impresses Kelly is the strong sense of family McGregor has brought to the Mouat football family through the love of the game he shares with his dad Craig.
“Craig has arranged his work schedule so that he can be at the school a half-hour before every practice and be our equipment manager,” says Kelly. “He even arranged his holidays so he can be free for our two-a-day camp in August.”
And it’s that direct commitment from his dad which has shaped the path McGregor has taken into all of his team-building and charitable endeavours.
“When he is there for support, it’s the backbone that makes me try harder to show him that I am an elite player who cares about my team, my school and my community all in one,” says McGregor, who is interested in criminology and will soon choose his university football destination. “Not everyone has had the kind of love I have had. It’s made me want to help in the world around me, even if it’s as simple as going up to someone when they’re down and trying to make them laugh.”
by Howard Tsunamura, The Province, Dec 23, 2013