Mike O’Shea can’t crunch people when he plays his weekly ultimate frisbee game.
But one gets the feeling that if he could, O’Shea most definitely would.
The Argonauts special teams co-ordinator’s intensity hasn’t waned since he played his last Canadian Football League game for the Argos in their 2008 finale.
“It does bubble up in there, and the problem is, my body can’t do anything about it,” O’Shea said of getting involved in games from the sideline. “I’m trapped.
“(Ultimate frisbee) is a feel-good, karma-based sort of thing, you know? I’m trying to make the adjustment to allow me to (have) some outlet of physical fitness where I can calm down and learn and just to have fun instead of worrying about beating myself up over missed plays.”
The Argos don’t really mind that O’Shea’s intense nature, one that saw him through 16 seasons in the CFL as a menacing linebacker and special-teams performer, remains a part of his personality. It’s a trait that has translated to the Argos’ special teams, a group that has been an instrumental factor in several of the Argos’ five wins this season.
Players don’t want to rest and beg off every so often because they know O’Shea never did. Last week, Ryan Christian returned a kickoff 110 yards, but wanted to be right back on the field for the Argos’ kickoff, no matter how much his hamstrings were screaming at him to take a breather.
“From when he was a player, he has not changed one bit,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said. “There are times that I know if he had an opportunity to throw some pads on, he would go out. I absolutely know it.”
Many players who lined up alongside O’Shea thought of him as a coach in uniform, so it’s not a big shock that the 39-year-old North Bay native has grown into his new role smoothly.
“His preparation work during the week is outstanding,” Barker said. “There are things that are frustrating for great players (who eventually become coaches). You expect players to have the same kind of instincts you have. Sometimes it takes time for that to happen. Osh has been spectacular.”
In turn, O’Shea said that having players such as veterans Bryan Crawford and Jeff Johnson to lean on has been a godsend.
“You rely on those guys to make sure our substitutions are clean, make sure our checks are out there so we can put ourselves in the best position depending on what the other team is giving us,” O’Shea said. “You rely on them for feedback from meetings, everything. I have no problems asking them about what the mood is, my coaching style, game-planning. I hope that spreads around to more guys as we go through the season.”