When his Canadian Football League career ended seven years ago, Tom Hipsz figured his time in the spotlight also was done.
Not quite. Hipsz, a defensive tackle who spent six seasons in the CFL (including a cup of coffee with the Argonauts in 2000) before retiring in 2002, yesterday was unveiled as Toronto's first torch-bearer for the Olympic Torch relay to Vancouver later this year.
"I almost jumped through the roof when they told me last Thursday," Hipsz said yesterday at the Distillery District, where the torch tour RV made a pit stop. "I was asked if I was going to run or walk, and I said I was a d-lineman, so I will run. If I had been an offensive lineman, I would be walking."
Hipsz, a recreation and fitness co-ordinator at Sheridan College in Oakville, also is a member of the Esteem Team, a group that connects athletes to students across Canada for motivational purposes. It was through his work with Esteem that Hipsz got on the radar of Coca-Cola, a torch relay sponsor, and VANOC.
"They thought I would be a good ambassador and I am humbled that they decided I would fit that role," Hipsz, 37, said.
The Olympic Torch relay, which begins on Oct. 30 in Victoria, will wind its way across the country and back to the west coast for the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's scheduled to be in the Greater Toronto Area Dec. 17-19. Each torch-bearer will carry the torch for approximately 300 metres. No less than 12,000 torch-bearers will be selected.
Canadians who wish to apply to be a torch-bearer can do so at icoke.ca and rbc.com.