Cinderella story started at Scona

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, nobody is going to compare Jon Hameister-Ries to Cinderella - but his football story has some magic to it.

The Strathcona high school graduate - who had to be prodded for two years to even play football - has signed a three-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL.

"That is amazing. Holy cow," said Garry Parasynchuk, Hameister-Ries' former teacher and high school coach at Strathcona.

"I'm so happy for him... it's just unbelievable.

"You know, I still remember the look on Jon's face when I told him: 'Jon, if I had your size, I'd be playing in the NFL. You would be watching me Monday night.'

"And that was way back in Grade 10."

It took two years of pestering to convince Hameister-Ries to come out for the high school team.

Finally, in his Grade 12 year, he played defensive line and tight end, earning a $125,000 US scholarship to the University of Tulsa.

Making the story even better, he wasn't converted to the offensive line until the 2005-06 season - and now he is heading to the Cardinals as an offensive guard.

"It is pretty exciting. I'm pretty overwhelmed," said Hameister-Ries, who is very quiet and unassuming off the field.

Never imagining this could happen, the 23-year-old Edmonton native is just thankful he didn't quit the sport in college when he didn't see the field for his first two full seasons.

"I just kind of figured it would be in my best interests to keep trying," he said.

At least four NFL teams were interested in signing Hameister-Ries to a free-agent contract after Sunday's draft.

But the Cardinals seem like the best fit.

"They didn't draft anybody at his position," said his American-based agent Mark Maren. "And they really liked him.

"We figure that will provide Jon the best opportunity to succeed, make it through the camps and hopefully get on to their roster come the fall."

Financial details of Hameister-Ries' contract haven't been released, but it's a boatload more than what would have been on a CFL contract with the B.C. Lions.

The Leos drafted Hameister-Ries last year.


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