Spoletini Jr. makes case for defence

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

A thousand Spolumbo's sausages in one sitting couldn't bulk Tom Spoletini enough to play the same position as his dad.

Tom Spoletini Sr. was an offensive lineman with the Calgary Stampeders. He must have contributed some of his football genes to his defensive halfback son, but size isn't part of the package.

"Everyone says that. I guess I took my mom's athleticism," the younger Spoletini said yesterday before a South Team practice at McMahon Stadium in preparation of tomorrow's Senior Bowl (noon, McMahon).

Even the 18-year-old's school is smaller.

While dad went to St. Francis, Tom is graduating from little known Rundle College -- a Div. IV-sized private school that plays in the Big Sky League against the likes of Drumheller and Canmore.

"I was pushing to go to a St. Francis or a Notre Dame," Tom said. "My family thought (Rundle) was better for me. And it did work out academically."

It didn't work out too bad on the football side of things, either.

Spoletini is the first Rundle College player to suit up for the Senior Bowl, which pits the best players in the province against each other in a North vs. South format.

"It's great. We had a great coaching staff. They developed me into the player I am now," Spoletini said of the program brought in just three years ago thanks to the hard work of principal Dennis Holowaychuk.

"He's worked his tail off to get it," Spoletini said of the former University of Calgary Dinos assistant coach.

"To see the kids who've never played football before develop, it was pretty special to be part of it."

Playing community ball with the Cowboys got him more attention -- midget football is where Dinos head coach Blake Nill first noticed Spoletini.

Ultimately, the combination of the two got him a shot in camp with the Dinos and a spot at the university to study.

"It's so important, going to university," Spoletini said.

"I'm so pumped for it. It's going to be fun next year."

Rundle College teammate Mike Klassen, a defensive end, didn't make the Senior Bowl but will join Spoletini at the U of C.

Both have high aspirations.

"I hope I make the travelling roster and get as much playing time as I can," said Spoletini. "I just have to hit the gym and work hard and try and get on the field.

"I think I'm a pretty good cover guy. I've got to work on my tackling a bit ... my open-field tackling."

If the way he performed in April's camp trying out for the Senior Bowl is any indication of the way he markets himself for Nill later this summer, Spoletini should have no trouble achieving his goals.

"He's a very good athlete that knows what he's doing at that position," said Football Alberta's Tim Enger. "So many kids come to that camp. You've got to do what you need to do to stick out. He did that. It was a pretty easy selection to make."

Being a former pro, papa Spoletini can offer advice along the way. He might, however, have to consult some former teammates who played on the other side of the ball.

"It's not like I can follow in his footsteps and play (on the line)," Tom said with a laugh.

"He's supported me my whole football career. Any question I have. He's motivated me."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos