May 21st, 2018

Grey Cup champ returns to his roots

By Yoos, Cam on February 14, 2018.

© Lethbridge Herald photo by Tijana Martin Jimmy Ralph, a Raymond High School alumni, records a video to sent back to the Toronto Argonauts during a school assembly on Tuesday. @TMartinHerald

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald – Raymond

Jimmy Ralph admits he’s not too active on Twitter.

All it took was becoming a Grey Cup champion with the Toronto Argonauts to change that.

When the former Raymond Comet won the Canadian Football League’s top prize over the Calgary Stampeders last November, Ralph was quick to contact his former coach and Raymond High School principal Todd Heggie about bringing the cup back to his hometown.

“We knew the plan that each player was going to have the opportunity to have the Grey Cup,” said Ralph, who attended Raymond High School from 2008-11. “As soon as I won and the celebrations settled down I wanted to make sure this would be possible. I talked to coach Heggie when he was congratulating me. I asked him if I could bring it to the high school and he said ‘absolutely.'”

Heggie said the lines of communication between the two opened within an hour of the Argos winning the Grey Cup.

“He sent me a message and he said ‘I’ll bring it to the high school whenever you’re ready,'” said Heggie. “So right from the early celebration we had kind of started getting this day ready and when he got the day of Feb. 13 we started putting it together. But that was funny because as soon as he won it I messaged him back and forth and one of his top priorities was getting it back to the school. It’s pretty neat.”

It became a reality Tuesday as Ralph addressed a Raymond High School gymnasium packed with attentive students eager to meet the hometown hero and get their picture taken with the CFL’s holy grail.

“It’s awesome,” said Ralph. “Bringing the Grey Cup back to Raymond was part of the dream along with wanting to win one. I wanted to be able to come share this with the community that raised me and to be able to do it with family and friends and everybody who was a part of it, to be able to bring it back is special.”

In a roughly half-hour speech preceded by a pair of video tributes, Ralph addressed the trials and tribulations of his path to the CFL and earning his spot on the Argos, moving from the practice roster to the main roster.

To cap off his address, Ralph had the students stand and partake in the Argos “What You Say?” chat as Ralph captured the moment on video and told the assembly he’d send the video back to his Argos teammates.

Among those in attendance were current Comets, including wide receiver Brady Baines, a player more than familiar with Ralph’s career path.

“I’ve been watching him ever since Grade 10,” said Baines. “He was the man. I remember I’d come to the games and all I wanted to do was be like him.

“I’m still a bit star-struck when I talk to him because he’s just this amazing guy that everybody loves.”

Tuesday’s guest of honour could relate to where Baines was coming from.

“That’s kind of the thing about Raymond. We always look forward to being a Comet and whoever that Comet was when you were younger, you look up to them and you want to be just like them,” said Ralph.

“It’s cool to hear stories like that because I can relate. I did it when my brothers were going through their high school careers. It’s fun to go and watch them and know you’re going to have that opportunity at some point. To hear that is cool.”

It’s not the first time the Grey Cup has come to Raymond High School, and it was Ralph’s siblings who were responsible for it.

“Brett and Brock both won a Cup and we’ve done similar things when they did,” said Heggie. “But for him to come back and for our students to see a kid that was here not that long ago and go out and achieve something like this and pursue his dreams, it’s good for our community and it’s great for our students to see. It’s something else.”

As Ralph spoke of the past football season, he stressed to the assembled students to enjoy the present with a “live for the day” motto.

“My main message was just to get them to slow down life and just enjoy the moment,” said Ralph, who is under contract with the Argonauts for two more years. “We always look so forward to being in high school and going to university and those kinds of things. But I just wanted to leave the message to enjoy the time with your friends, because you’re going to savour those moments. I wish I would have enjoyed my experiences more and took the time to really feel those moments instead of looking ahead to often.”

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