Every week, The Winnipeg Sun gets to know a sports personality a little better in Up Close and Jim Bender recently sat down with Winnipeg Blue Bombers injured long snapper Chris Cvetkovic. The 33-year-old Hamilton native was lost for the season when he suffered a torn ACL during a pre-season game. He was in uniform and snapping the ball at practice on Thursday, but will not play again this year.
THE SUN: I was surprised to see you in uniform (Thursday), what was that all about?
CHRIS CVETKOVIC: I can snap now, so I thought I would at least try to work some of the rust off. Itís the longest Iíve ever gone without snapping. So, itís one of those things, get in the motions of doing it again and keep snapping every day.
TS: Thereís no danger of aggravating the injury?
CC: No, itís more the twisting and the torquing motion of the knee. The doctors and (athletic therapist) Al (Couture) told me my kneeís going to feel great after about three months but it still takes about six months for the graft to heal inside. Theyíre going to push it to a certain degree but theyíre going to pull the leash back on and make sure Iím not doing anything crazy. But snappingís not going to hurt it at all.
TS: But itís murder on your golf game (Check The Sun video: Blue Bombers hit the links).
CC: Brutal. You were there (at the Bomber golf tournament). I saw you hiding in the bush and laughing at me trying to golf off one leg.
TS: What has it been like not to play and spend your time rehabbing?
CC: To be a glorified season-ticket holder? Itís tough, Iím not going to lie. Granted, I only play 15 plays a game so, I usually do just watch. But, while it didnít work out well for Keyuo (Craver, also out for the year), I got an awesome training partner because he did the same thing as me (suffered same injury) a couple of weeks afterwards so, I was lucky to have someone. Weíve become a lot closer and work out together and itís one of those things with that whole crew in treatment. There are some pretty good guys. Itís hard to watch but at least, Iím there with some good guys.
TS: It must be even tougher when the team is having such a frustrating season.
CC: Yeah, itís one of those years because itís awkward. I mean, everythingís in place. Weíve got the players, the system, the coaches and everythingís there. If we play like we did last week and the way we did in the Banjo Bowl, weíre going to win some games. Itís not a question of that.
TS: Are you worried about your future?
CC: Absolutely. Iím not one to become complacent. This is my seventh year here and Kyle (Walters) is my seventh special teams coach so Iíve had to audition every year. You know, Taylor (Inglis) is a great snapper. Heís a young guy (26) ó I look better than him but he is younger than me. But thatís out of my control. All I can do is make myself better, get myself into shape and keep snapping and doing my thing, and weíll see where the cards fall next year.
TS: Iíve seen a lot of your work, like your caricatures and stuff, and you could probably make money doing that. Have you ever thought of doing something like that for a living?
CC: You know what, all my skills seem to get me nowhere in life. All my voice impressions and all my cartoon characters and all that stuff ó they usually get you nowhere in life. But itís good for laughs on the team. Usually, snappers, punters, kickers are all a little quirky. So, the more you can do, eh?
TS: You must be involved in about 100 charities. How many are there exactly?
CC: I donít know how many. Itís a little bit here and there. I enjoy it. My wife (Ashley) enjoys it, too. Like, our family just enjoys giving back. The more stuff you get involved in, the better. From our standpoint, it doesnít take much to do too much, and I donít think itís a lot to ask. And when I ask other guys to do stuff, this is such a good squad that I am usually turning guys down because other guys want to get involved. You hear about the Ooses (Jon Oosterhuis) and the Obbys (Khan) and that guys that are here all year long. But this year, even during the season, the guys are getting involved in a lot of stuff and thatís a testament to the coaches they brought in and (GM) Joe Mack. They brought in good guys who are good players.
TS: How did you get involved in charities in the first place?
CC: I did a lot of volunteer work in college (at Concordia). I used to work in a blind institute with a swim program. I liked it. I like working with kids especially because theyíre pure and theyíre real. If youíre funny looking, theyíll tell you and I think theyíre pretty funny. Itís one of those things my parents instilled in me to do whatever you can.
TS: Did blind kids tell you were funny looking?
CC: Everyone thought I was funny looking. I had that kind of baboon look to me.
TS: What charities can you name off the top of your head that you have helped?
CC: Iíve done stuff with Winnipeg Harvest, Childrenís Miracle Network, Childrenís Hospital, a lot of smaller stuff. Iím spread pretty wide. I donít really dedicate myself to one. Iíd like to get involved with Winnipeg Animal Shelters. We have three pets (two dogs and a cat) and theyíre all from animal shelters.
TS: I guess the advantage is you get to spend more time with your family now, right?
CC: You would think so, but Iím still in for treatment and now, Iím coming here for practice so, in theory, I should have more time but I donít know if it really works into that.
TS: How old are your kids and what are their names?
CC: My daughter, Payton, is three and my son is Hudson, heís two ó and he can already snap way better than me. Iím a little faster but heís way more accurate.