It is not hard to see the school teacher in Jamie Stoddard.
From the meticulous nature in which the Blue Bombers wide receiver describes his daily activities to the smile he spreads when explaining his role as a Winnipeg Rifles assistant coach, Stoddard -- the off-season substitute -- has teacher's timing and a routine to prove it.
His off-season consists of playing golf -- a hobby he wishes he had more time for -- enjoying the occasional soccer game and taking substitute shifts as they come up.
It is during the season, however, when Stoddard's routine is especially stringent -- especially on game days. Though the 28-year-old's habits are based more on keeping a regular timetable than keeping in line with traditions or superstitions.
"The night before a game, I go to sleep around 2 a.m., which I guess is actually the start of my game day," laughs Stoddard, who normally packs in six hours of sleep prior to waking up at 10 a.m., and heading to his favourite eatery -- any one that serves falafels -- for approximately an hour and a half of "hanging out."
The Richmond, B.C.-born Bomber's falafel tradition started early on in his stint with the Blue and Gold, a stay which has him suited up for the seventh straight year. Recently, however, the so-called Falafel King has extended the penchant for the eastern chickpea delight to some of his teammates who now join him -- primarily on non-game days -- in dining on his delicacy of choice.
Snapper Chris Cvetkovic, defensive end Tom Canada and kicker Troy Westwood all have lockers in Stoddard's corner and admit to the occasional falafel, though none but Westwood will consume the heavy Hebrew treat prior to hitting the field.
"I was brought into the falafel tradition and I think Westwood's the only guy I've brought into the game day thing. Some guys don't like the grease on game days," Stoddard says.
"It's definitely too greasy for me," laughs Cvetkovic from his perch next to Stoddard's. "That really greases up your joints."
Stoddard agrees it does "grease up his joints," but does not have any designs on changing up tradition for game days, which he continues with the only thing he wants to do after the falafel party.
"I just want to go home, sit on the couch and watch TV all day. Movies. Whatever is on. I just sit there," Stoddard says, noting his day is just "pretty basic" when there is football to be played.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder arrives at the stadium around 4:30 p.m., gets dressed "as soon as he can," then gets a cup of coffee, gets in the zone and stretches in the hour or so he has before he's required to hit the field.
"I just walk around, talk to people, try and relax. It's a pretty quiet day for me," says Stoddard, whose post-game routine depends on whether the squad wins or loses and whether or not the following morning is a work morning.
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY(ING GOLF)
On those work mornings, Stoddard wakes up even earlier and heads to the field for a precise 8:55 a.m., gets his tell-tale cup of coffee and attends meetings prior to going through the "whole practice routine."
Not so shockingly, the next step is grabbing some grub -- whether he makes it himself or eats out -- followed by some more relaxing in front of the television.
An hour-long workout is in line at 5 p.m. and then Stoddard takes up his coaching duties for the Rifles junior football club at 6:15. It is there he stays -- and has "a whole lot of fun" -- until 9:30, when he tries to jam in dinner and get his clock back on track.
"Because of the way our schedule works out, I'm eating lunch at 2:30 and don't really have time to eat dinner before or during Rifles practice," says Stoddard, who admits he wouldn't trade working regularly with the team's offence and occasionally its special teams for the promise of a normal schedule.
Under Stoddard's tutelage, last year's receivers had on of the best collective rap sheets in the Prairie Football Conference, and the coach is working technique with them again this year. He also discuses defensive strategies, then heads home to bed by 11 p.m. as another early morning practice comes all too quickly.
When there's nothing to do in the morning -- at least nothing football related -- Stoddard doesn't set an alarm and relishes the chance to "wake up when I wake up," and generally heads back to the falafel place for breakfast.
If possible, Stoddard gets in a round of golf prior to again heading to Rifles practice -- if the wonderful Winnipeg weather warrants it.
"It hasn't happened too many times this year that we've had a day off when the Rifles have a day off, so I don't ever have a whole day to myself," says Stoddard. "Add to that the likelihood of an ugly day like yesterday and I get very few rounds of golf in."
When it's an "ugly" off-day, Stoddard is likely found at defensive lineman Matt Sherridan's house playing video games or at home -- what else -- watching television or getting ready for a night on the town.
"If we have a day off the next day as well, I'll definitely be going out for a bite to eat and likely a few beers," Stoddard says, noting television, falafels and football aren't always the only things on his plate.
Though they do define the majority of his free time.
"I love reading, I love crosswords, I love golfing. I like watching soccer. I had a good day the other day. There was some good soccer on and then two movies. It was a good day on the couch.
"In the off season I get off the couch to play squash or indoor soccer, but I really don't have a lot of hobbies like (Tom) Canada or do artsy things like "Warrior Poet" Westwood."