When Rob Maver was looking to get a leg up on a pro football career, he found a mentor in a former Calgary Stampeders kicker.
In early 2007, Sandro DeAngelis was contacted by a young Guelph Gryphons placekicker who needed some tips on how to prepare for the next level.
The two struck up a common bond with their mutual interests and have kept in touch since then (though never meeting in person), even through the process of Maver taking over from DeAngelis, who went to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a free agent.
“He gave me great advice,” said Maver, who was a first-round draft pick this spring.
“Good advice, especially for kickers, is really hard to come by. Anybody who can do that and loves the game should get into (coaching).
“Sandro mentored me a little bit. He told me how to pace my training in the off-season and a few other things. He helped me out a lot.”
It’s only fitting that DeAngelis is facing his former team in the home-opener with his new club, and it’s a perfect time for the pair to meet.
Over the past few years, they have corresponded by e-mail and Facebook and have obviously followed each other’s careers closely.
No one needed to tell Maver he was taking on a huge task by replacing DeAngelis in Calgary.
All the Niagara Falls, Ont., native did in five years was win a Grey Cup most outstanding Canadian award, a special teams player of the year award and set the all-time best field-goal percentage.
But after getting to know the 24-year-old rookie a bit and seeing him go 5-of-6 on opening night, DeAngelis is confident Maver can handle the pressure.
“I’m sure he’s going to do just fine,” DeAngelis said. “He seems to have the right attitude, the want to get better. That attitude takes you further in life than skill alone.
“If you combine the two, you can do great things. I expect him to do great things in this league. If he keeps going how he went at the college level, I can’t see why he wouldn’t be successful.”
DeAngelis has settled into his new team and said the move is a good one for he and his family. DeAngelis and wife Cassi are expecting their second child in October as the couple sets down roots in Ontario.
When DeAngelis left Calgary, the main reason was to be closer to his elderly parents and it wasn’t based on football.
But he will forever have a tie to Cowtown because of his 16-month-old son.
“Max will always be a Calgary boy and I can’t help but have fond memories of Calgary,” DeAngelis said. “So many amazing things happened there.”
DeAngelis hopes to become a coach when his playing days are done and he’s off to a good start. He’s now helping Ticats rookie punter Justin Palardy with some of the same advice he gave to Maver.
“The biggest thing I tried to tell him about ball is to have fun,” DeAngelis said. “As serious as a job as it is, you can’t take it too seriously. You have to enjoy yourself. If you let the pressure take the fun out of it, it will eat you alive.
DeAngelis wasn’t the only one to respond to Maver a few years ago. Montreal’s Damon Duval and Saskatchewan’s Luca Congi also corresponded with him.
It felt to Maver like he was being welcomed into the fraternity.
“There’s always camaraderie between kickers,” Maver said. “There’s not too many of us. We stick together, especially when we’re not competing against each other.
“You like to be friendly with the other kickers in the league. It’s an exclusive group.”