House made home in Winnipeg

CHAD SCARSBROOK -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

While slotback Rick House was on his way to 385 catches, over 6,200 yards receiving and a Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame plaque wearing the Blue and Gold, he always knew in the back of his mind that he needed to be prepared for life after football.

"The notion of getting into teaching was a natural for me," the 49-year-old said recently, noting his father was a school principal.

For several years, House would play football during the summer and fall and go back to Simon Fraser University during the spring to finish off his bachelor of arts degree. After that, he completed a two-year after-degree program at the University of Manitoba. Today, he's a junior high teacher at Westdale School in Charleswood.

Although he was raised in Burnaby, B.C., he now calls Winnipeg home.

"Winnipeg is where I grew up as a football player," said House. "I came here in 1979 as a 20-year-old. I really grew up here and developed as a player."

House, who played in parts of three decades from 1979-1991, called it an experience of a lifetime.

"We were such a close group of guys -- Joe Poplawski, Paul Bennett, Dan Huclack -- all the Canadians lived and played together."

But it was the contact with some of the Americans, from all walks of life, that House can't ever forget.

"Guys were brought up in so many different places," said House. "All too often, a guy or two had to leave because his brother was involved in a drive-by shooting. That was the way of life for some people but not for a Canadian kid brought up in Burnaby."

House won three Grey Cups in his CFL career -- two with the Bombers and one with the Edmonton Eskimos. Although he called all of them special, his favourite was the 1990 victory when the Bombers slaughtered the Eskimos 50-11.

"That one had turmoil," said House. "The '89 team started off well then lost eight or nine straight, it was just brutal. In 1990, (quarterback Tom) Burgess comes in and everything started to click. It was just a sweet year beating Edmonton in the Grey Cup. It was almost as if it was meant to be. And it was enjoyable to me not knowing if it was my last year playing. I really cherish the experience."

House decided to play one more year before hanging up his cleats.

"I knew before the year was over (in 1991) that that was it," he said. "My body was telling me I was done."

He's been teaching full-time since. But don't think he doesn't still follow the Blue and Gold.

"Oh yeah, I have season tickets," said House. "For all the things (former Bombers coach) Jeff Reinebold did wrong, he opened the door to the Bombers alumni and invited the tradition and history back. And since Lyle (Bauer, Bombers president) has come back, he's made tradition part of the Blue Bombers legacy. If you played with the Bombers, you're part of the family."

And the family is looking pretty good these days.

"The team's exciting to watch," said House. "The fans are so starved for that, it's good to see. The fans are very knowledgeable and they take their football very seriously. You can make an argument that Winnipeg is a top football city in the country."

House and his wife Joan will celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary later this year. They have three children -- Mitch, 22, Jeff, 20 and Brad, 19.


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