Greenfield Park hall of famer Qadr Spooner is not your average tough guy, despite his intimidating 6 ft 4 figure, he was one of the most outgoing and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met.
“Three years ago, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers came to see me play as a freshman, they said if I continue playing the way I do now or even better that they will give me a call in my last year of university. Little did I know, May 14th during the CFL draft, they held their promise”
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman sat down with me to talk about his football career and childhood. Spooner was a freshman playing on his first year when scouts came to see NFL and Kansas Chiefs offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif play on his senior year at McGill University. They saw Spooner and were astonished that he was just starting to play for the team as a freshman. Spooner had a particular tenacity when he was on the field and that made him stand out.
He humbly spoke about how many CFL teams were looking at him, the scouts in attendance at the game told him to keep up with his performance on the field. They said that good things were going to happen to him on his senior year if he kept playing the way he did.
The South Shore native grew up in a community where football was a popular sport. Spooner’s cousin Kyle Santana played high level football. As the oldest amongst his brothers, Spooner followed his cousin’s lane. Spooner never envisioned to be part of the CFL one day, in fact he started playing for fun just like any other kid.
Spooner met former football player Adrian Davis at age sixteen. Davis is a former professional football player that played for the Montreal Alouettes and then later on for the Toronto Argonauts. Davis saw a lot of potential in Spooner and decided to take him under his wing.
“He was the one guy who came back to Greenfield Park to encourage the youth and help them get somewhere in life through sports.”
Spooner described Adrian Davis as the guy that never stayed away from the community for long, he described him as the athlete of influence that didn’t give up on the younger generation.
“Adrian Davis was the person that gave me the vision, he brought me out to lunch a couple of times and spoke to me highly of Vanier college and coach Pete (Peter Chryssomalis)”
That’s when Spooner started taking football seriously and visualizing the big picture. He was grateful for the support he got from his community at a very young age.
“Davis would pick me up from practice and bring me home, if he saw me at a neighbourhood where he thought I shouldn’t be in, he would come for me”
Spooner graduated from McGill University in social work, he spoke about how the Greenfield Park Football community is not as involved in football as it was a few years ago. He thought that it was due to a lack of commitment from the parents, the system that was fading and the development of the territories in the south shore that led to the divisiveness of the community.
“These are all the things that I want to change and I want to bring things back to how they used to be when I was growing up, the kids need that as much as I did when I was a kid”
Community is what led Spooner to where he is right now, it’s the support he got from the people that encouraged him and pushed him to focus on school and to use it to his advantage. Spooner wanted to quit school right after graduating high school, he hated the system and wanted to start working right after. Although he despised many of the classes he was forced to take growing up, he said that the knowledge he learned from the courses he considered boring at the time allowed him to understand life better.
“Now that I look back, I would be sitting in class learning about poverty, inequality, disenfranchisement and oppression. Really understanding how to make a difference and knowing that I am in a position to make change,”
Football taught Spooner how to take responsibility and ownership of his life. It taught him how to find ways to get things done how to take school seriously and to use it to his advantage.
“It’s something that I can never regret. Now coming out of McGill University, I can get any job I want, I can work with kids, with schools and being able to provide that guidance and support is precious,”
Spooner emphasized on the importance of a degree as well as always having a second plan.
“Athletes must understand that as much as they might love the game, they still should always have education and make sure they graduate so they don’t end up anywhere when I came to McGill, I saw how school was valuable and I had to take it very seriously”
Spooner didn’t know that he was a person of influence until his younger brothers and sister followed the same path he took and went to Vanier College.
“I didn’t realize I was an athlete of influence until my younger brothers Rashad, Jamal and my little sister Aminah decided to go to Vanier College like me.”
Spooner’s two younger brothers play football, Rashad plays for the Ottawa University Gee-Gees and Jamal for the Concordia University Stingers. Spooner started his first CFL season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on June 10th. He will be playing in Montreal against the Montreal Alouettes August 24th at the Molson Percival Memorial stadium.