Drew Tate spent the off-season tickling ivories in Cleveland, and now he’s looking to spend the summer working on dance moves.
When the Calgary Stampeders quarterback went to Ohio, it was all about getting ready for his first full season as a starter in the CFL.
There’s only so much training one can do, so the 28-year-old Texan started taking piano lessons in his spare time. He started from the beginning, working on the basic techniques of just how to sit, hold the hand and hit the notes.
“I always wanted to learn how since I was a kid,” Tate said. “My mom tried to take me to lessons, but I didn’t have the attention span to sit there and do it.
“Once I got older, I calmed down.
I like to do things on my own time. I don’t like to do things on someone else’s schedule. It makes it easier for me to be efficient on my own time.”
Sit down with Tate and talk about football for any length of time and he will inevitably talk about getting better every day.
So it was through the process of working with trainer Bryan McCall that he found out there is something else he needs to work on: Footwork.
McCall hooked him up with former NFL quarterback Elvis Grbac, who is a high school coach in Ohio, and one of the things he told Tate was about how one of his legendary former teammates was a proficient dancer.
Once June’s training camp ends, Tate plans on finding a dance instructor in Calgary to start cleanly cutting some rug.
“Elvis told me about Joe Montana and how light he is on his feet,” Tate said. “I watched some videos and he was extremely light on his feet.
“I saw how you can co-ordinate that with drops, moving around the pocket and sliding around. I just thought it could be really beneficial to think about taking dance and ballet to get lighter on my feet. Elvis is a great guy. We worked twice a week for four or five weeks. It was cool. He would just tweak something and I could see results immediately.”
When Tate finished last season, his main off-season goal was to prepare physically for the grind of an 18-game regular season, plus playoffs.
Even starting just three games and the West semifinal loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in 2011, Tate felt worn down after the Stamps were knocked out.
He rejoined McCall, who had relocated to Ohio, and set about a plan. They worked on specific muscle areas such as the groin, hips, glutes, shoulders, back, thoracic and lats to strengthen some weaknesses.
This weekend, he’s heading back for a final kickback with friends before training camp begins, but he feels as strong as ever. Going to Cleveland worked.
“This was too big of a year for me,” Tate said.
“I had to work with him again. Two years ago, I had my best camp ever and
I wanted that again.
“This is business now.”