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Weekly Speaker Program

November 18, 2019: Grey Cup Special: John Bender, past-Stampeder.

President Gerry called to the microphone Peter Josty to introduce the guest speaker today. Very appropriate for our Grey Cup meeting. Please meet John Bender. Here is his biography.

John Bender is a Certified Financial Planner with IG Wealth Management. John has been in that role for seven years. Prior to becoming a financial planner, John played professional football for the Calgary Stampeders in 2011 and part of 2012.

Most of John’s professional career was spent on the injured reserve after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Nevada, where he played for four years on the Nevada Wolf Pack’s offensive line. John was on full scholarship at Nevada and was an All Conference football player, finishing his career on the #11 ranked team in NCAA in 2010. Several of John’s former team mates have gone on to great NFL careers, including Colin Kaepernick, Virgil Green and Joel Bitonio, among others.

John was inducted into Alberta Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2016 for his accolades collected throughout high school. John accumulated 7 provincial gold medals and a Shot-Put Championship throughout his High School sports career. John graduated from Cochrane High School in 2005, but was born and raised in Three Hills, Alberta.

The 107th is Grey Cup this Sunday, November 24: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Check out the activities around the city because the Grey Cup is happening right here in Calgary! Most of the festivities take place at Stampede Park in the BMO Centre and then McMahon Stadium.

The Tiger-Cats last won the Grey Cup in 1999 and the Blue Bombers last won in 1990. Calgary Stampeders played in the last three Grey Cups and this year Calgary hosts the big game at McMahon Stadium. John commented that it is hard to keep a winning team together. Most of the players like to play down south where it is 25 degrees warmer! Also, team mates here are mostly all professional since they usually graduate from university and have their degrees before going to play professional football.

John’s experience with sport was life-changing and started in grade 10 when he won a provincial track and field event with a 2-1/2 metre advantage over his nearest competitor. This is when he figured out that he was pretty good at sports. He recounted his illustrious football career as a student at Cochrane High School and University of Nevada. He candidly shared moments where he faced tough opponents and survived to tell the tale! His full scholarship at university amounted to about $136,000 US. He feels that the skills he learned in sport where valuable in his present career as financial planner. He worked with several famous football players, whose names, the reporter cannot remember or spell!

John’s comments sparked some interesting questions from our football fans. Some comments in response to questions were as follows. US players are large in size. The Canadian and American football games are different, the American game has players run through and not around. One of his first games was in Lincoln, Nebraska, a small town with a huge stadium for 85,000 people and it would always be full on game day! Needless to say, American football has a huge fan base.

Dan Pigeon thanked John and put in a good word for the football players at University of Western Ontario. It seems that they saved him several times when he worked as the bouncer at the campus pub. Dan’s closing remarks: “A quarterback is nothing without the offensive line.” John was presented with our unique Calgary West Boltman.

  • Dan Pigeon, John Bender, and Gerry Meek Dan Pigeon, John Bender, and Gerry Meek

reported by Marie Rickard

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