Pair of Hamilton Tiger-Cats honoured for good deeds and dedication

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Published December 10, 2021 at 9:51 pm

Tiger-Cats right tackle Chris Van Zeyl accepts the Jake Gaudaur Veterans' Award with Jackie Gaudaur and Hamilton Mountain member of Parliament Lisa Hepfner. (Hamilton Tiger-Cats photo)

Two of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ local products, right tackle Chris Van Zeyl and defensive back Mike Daly, were recognized for their dedication to football and the community at the CFL awards on Friday.

Van Zeyl, a 14-year CFL veteran who hails from Fonthill, was named the recipient of the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, which is presented to a Canadian player who embodies the characteristics such as strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities. The award is named after the CFL’s longest-serving commissioner, who fought in the Second World War.

Daly, an eight-year veteran, received the Tom Pate Award, which is presented by the CFL Players’ Association. It is presented to a player who displays qualities that distinguish them from their peers off the field as well.

Despite the difficulties of the cancelled season, Van Zeyl returned for his 14th year in the CFL as one of the league’s oldest players at 38. The McMaster alumnus missed the early part of the season due to a bum hamstring and recovery from thumb surgery, but persevered to return to the lineup for the stretch run.

As part of United Way’s Sleepless in our City initiative, Van Zeyl slept in his car on a cold winter night to raise funds and awareness for homelessness across the region. He serves as an ambassador for the Tiger-Cats’ two largest community outreach programs – TELUS #EndBullying All-Stars and Interval House’s Be More Than a Bystander. He also supports to several community organizations, such as including Hamilton Health Sciences, the Children’s Aid Society and the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.

Daly is also a spokesperson for the TELUS #EndBullying All-Stars and Be More Than a Bystander programs. The Kitchener native has been involved in community work in Hamilton since his university football days with the McMaster Marauders, where he was part of a national title-winning team in 2011.

The Tom Pate Memorial Award is named after a former Tiger-Cats player, who died in October 1975 after suffering an aneurysm during a game. Each season, the current CFLPA membership nominates one player from each of the nine CFL teams for the award, and one player is selected to receive the honour.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won four of the seven major awards on Friday.

Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence and guard Brandon Reverberg were the East nominees for top defensive player and top lineman.

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