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January 28, 2019

“I’M A COMPETITOR AT HEART”

Imagine Giorgio Armani decked out in Hugo Boss on some fashion red carpet.

Or Dolce & Gabbana flashing the world-renowned Medusa head logo brand of Versace.

For the past eight years of J.C. Sherritt’s professional life, green and gold has been the colour scheme.

The height of chic.

“Now, listen,” says Stampeders’ head coach Dave Dickenson, good-naturedly, “don’t forget he’s from Eastern Washington, so he’s worn a lot of red in his day, too.”

Monday, Sherritt returned to those ol’ collegiate roots, the Grey-Cup-kingpin-Stamps announcing the hiring of the freshly-retired 2012 CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award winner as their linebackers’ coach.

To say he’s tickled pink would be correct.

More to the point, though, he’s tickled red.

That’s gonna take some getting used to.

“I see the fans’ point of view, and I know it’ll be difficult for some people,’’ admitted Sherritt. “It will not be difficult for me.

“I’m a competitor at heart. It feels like I did going into a training camp … those nerves, that excitement.

“That’s where I am all over again.

“I’ve already had quite a few teammates call and just say congratulations.

“Players realize the business we’re in. Whether it’s your rival or not your rival, if you can’t see how great of an opportunity this is, to coach here …

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Sherritt replaces Brent Monson, elevated to the defensive co-ordinator role with the departure of DeVone Claybrooks.

“We kinda took our time on that linebacker (coaching) position,’’ said Dickenson. “We had some other candidates I was talking to.

“I got word he was thinking about retiring, Huff reached out to him after that. We had him in for an interview last week and I thought he was excellent. Very organized, passionate about coaching, you could tell he had a plan. I think he gives us a little bit of a different viewpoint, not just our system, how (the Eskies’) approached us, but we’re confident he can add new ideas.

“To me, it was a pretty easy hire after talking to him in person.”

Roaming the middle, flying from side-to-side to hunt down the football’s whereabouts like some uber-aggressive bird of prey, over the passing of the seasons the all-in/all-out/all-heart Sherritt came to symbolize Edmonton’s defence much the way QB Mike Reilly did its attack.

“It’s tough when anyone has a long history with another team,” Dickenson acknowledged. “But it is a small league. I know his lady works in Banff and he lives in Sandpoint, Idaho, so I think he kinda considers himself a West Coaster.

“Those things all helped us.

“The Eastern Washington coach, Aaron Best, has been up here a couple times as a guest coach. His recommendation of what type of person J.C. is was a big factor.

“He said: ‘He’ll be one of your type of guys, Dave.’ And obviously Bo (Levi Mitchell)’s good friends with him. So a lot of it was kinda there.”

So, Sherritt packs up and makes the professional move three hours south less than two weeks after retiring, having compiled 507 tackles in 109 games as an Eskimo, a total that would’ve been substantially higher had he not suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during the 2017 opener.

“I’ve talked to a lot coaches who made the transition from playing,” Sherritt acknowledged. “And there’s always a little part of you – well, maybe a big part – that always wants to play, always wants to compete.

“But I would have to think this is the next best thing.

“And the idea of not waking up sore on Monday is pretty cool, too.

“I’m so excited to get to Calgary to do anything I can to help them continue to have success.

“This is an unbelievable place to start my coaching career. The success the organization’s enjoyed is no secret. The character I felt when I walked in the building, talked to Huff and Dave and (Corey) Mace, and then getting a call from Brent.

“What better place to learn and become a good coach?

“(Coaching) has been in my head since I was four or five years old. There was no doubt I wanted to play football as long as I could, then I wanted to coach. The older I’ve become, the more chance I’ve had to coach in the off-season or at our academy in Spokane.

“This just solidified what I felt in my heart.”

The position is too new, the seismic shift in allegiance too fresh, Sherritt insists, to have even idly wondered what the first test against those guys in green and-gold might feel like.

He certainly doesn’t envision the change in digs from Commonwealth Stadium to McMahon being a tough emotional transition.

“I don’t think so, no,” he replied.

“Hey, it’s football. I’m going to coach football. Football is what I do. Football is what I love.

“So put me on the parking lot. Put me anywhere. I’m gonna enjoy it.”