It was back around 2005 or 2006 that a young boy sat in the stands at McMahon Stadium taking in his first football game.
Right then, his dreams of playing in the CFL began.
This weekend, St. Francis Xavier defensive lineman Alexander Fedchun is one step closer to that goal, as he’ll put his skills on display for the coaches and scouts at the National Combine at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
“I started playing football because my Dad took me to a Stampeders game when I was six, and I remember just sitting there in awe of every aspect from the crowd to the players, the fireworks, everything,” he reflected.
“So, I fell in love with the game as a viewer and then picked up flag football for three years and once I was old enough to play tackle football, I joined the Calgary Wildcats and played that until midget.”
Along the way, there was a certain Canadian Football Hall-of-Famer and Calgary football legend that convinced him to play the game full-time.
“So, when I first picked up football when I was six, I went into one of (former player and current Stamps coach) Nik Lewis’ youth camps and he was the main coach there and I was just kind of picking up the game and was a little nervous about it,” he said. “But, he was super welcoming and super friendly. He actually was a big impact on me staying in football as a kid.
“I felt hesitant about it at first, but he made me feel welcome and a part of the game.”
Another former Stampeder that influenced Fedchun is two-time Grey Cup winner Jamie Crysdale.
“He has impacted me tremendously,” said the 23-year-old. “Lucky enough I’m actually good buddies with his older son Tommy, and so he’s always been around and been in my corner. Whenever I had any problems on the field or off the field, I’d be able to go to him and talk to him about it.”
Crysdale played centre for the Red and White from 1993-2005 and won two Grey Cups with the club in 1998 and 2001. He was named a CFL West-Division All-Star in 1998.
In high school, Fedchun suited up at five different positions for the Ernest Manning Griffins including the defensive line, offensive line, linebacker, tight end and slot back.
His ability to dress at multiple spots speaks to his love for the sport, versatility and willingness to be part of the game in any way he can.
“I’ve always said, I’m there for the team,” he explained. “Whatever the team needs me to do I’ll do. Whether that’s play d-line, play linebacker, play o-line, play tight end, wherever.
“I’m always down for a new challenge, so whenever coaches will come up to me and say ‘Hey, you’re at tight end today,’ I have a big smile on my face.”
In 16 games played with the X-Men, he recorded 65.5 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, four broken-up passes, and one interception. He won three AUS championships with the school, two of which the team went undefeated in the regular season. Fedchun was named the 2019 X-Men Football MVP and the 2021 X-Men Football Best Defensive Player.
Now it’s time for the final test.
“My mentality going into the combine is to be able to show the scouts and the coaches what I can do. But the more important thing is to prove to myself that I am a good football player and that I deserve to be here.”
You can keep up with all the latest news from the CFL Combine here.
The CFL Draft takes place on May 2 at 6 p.m. MT.