Leaving it all behind

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Athletes who come to Winnipeg from far flung local sometimes leave a lot behind. Family, homes and pets spring to mind instantly when they begin to talk about what they miss while they're in their adopted home. Winnipeg Sun reporter Kirk Penton takes a look at how athletes adjust to life in Winnipeg in a series called: Far From Home.

Dan Goodspeed misses his wife, his dog and his bed.

Paul Leacock says Winnipeg is just another place to do his job.

Stanford Samuels is having a hard time being away from his son.

Alan Cuthbertson sounds like he never wants to leave.

Ask out-of-town athletes living in Winnipeg how much they miss home, and you get a wide array of answers that represents the variety of people who play sports for money in Manitoba.

Samuels is a rookie defensive back with the Blue Bombers who had never lived outside of Florida until this year. He has a six-year-old son, Stanford III, whom he left behind in Miami to live with his grandfather, Stanford Sr.

SENDS A VIDEOTAPE

You get the feeling Samuels would rather let Dave Dickenson torch him for five touchdowns than miss a conversation with his son.

"I talk to him every day," said Samuels, who sends a videotape of each Bomber game to his son for critical analysis. "I have a son with experiences beyond his years, so it's a lot easier because I can actually talk to him.

"We actually have conversations. We talk on the phone for 15 or 20 minutes a night and actually have a conversation where I can go back and forth with him.

"That makes it a little easier, but it's still hard being away from him."

Stanford III has spent the last month counting down the days until the Bombers get the bye week, which is when he'll finally get to see his dad again.

"I'm looking forward to it," Samuels said.

Paul Leacock sounds more like a hit man than an Assiniboia Downs jockey when asked if he misses his home country of Barbados.

"I don't, no," he said matter of factly. "I came to make money, so that's the only thing on my mind right now."

It should be noted that Leacock isn't completely alone in Winnipeg. His brother, Jason, is also a jockey at the Downs, and there are several other riders from Barbados at the track.

"I already know what home is, and I've been coming here for three years now, so I'm accustomed to it," he said. "This job takes you places that are far, far away from home."

Cuthbertson, another Downs jockey, is someone who couldn't wait to get far away -- from his past. His checkered history, which includes drug use, caused him to lose his job at several tracks.

On his road of life, Winnipeg represents another chance.

"I'm a B.C. guy, and that's my home, but since I've been here ... I'm coming back next spring because they've been so good to me," he said. "They've given me another chance at it, so I'm coming back. I appreciate what they've done.

"A lot of people are on my team. I really don't understand why, because I'm kind of a problem person -- in the past -- but they all rally for some reason. I don't understand why, but they do."

Then there's Goodspeed, a Bombers offensive lineman who bought a house with his wife almost three years ago in Tampa and has actually lived in it for all of six months thanks to a tour of the NFL and his current CFL stint.

If that's not a recipe for missing home, nothing is.

"I miss my bed," the affable big man said. "I miss a big bed that I actually fit in. Oh, and I obviously miss my wife. And I miss my dog."

At least Goodspeed can find a silver lining of living apart from his wife for so long.

"It keeps the marriage fresh," he said with a laugh.


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