May 22, 2023

Rob Vanstone: Ryder drums up support for Green and White 

Jason Ryder’s surname says it all.
“I was born to be a Rider fan,” he said before one of the CFL team’s recent workouts at Griffiths Stadium. 

Ryder punctuated Week 1 of the Coors Light Riders Training Camp by participating in the Green and White Day festivities. 

The Rider Pep Band, which includes Ryder as a percussionist, performed at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on a day that included the team’s intra-squad game — which proved to be a smoke-shortened affair. 

Ryder’s trip to the venue was shortened, too. Ordinarily, he travels 2½ hours to and from Regina on game days. Not on Saturday. 

“I love that camp is here,” said Ryder, who resides in Saskatoon. 

Distance does not deter him from attending games at Mosaic Stadium and being part of the orchestra. 

There have been sundry other road trips. Since Ryder joined the pep band in 2005, he has attended the Grey Cup in every CFL city except Hamilton. 

That void could be filled in November when the league’s marquee event is held in Steeltown. 

But first things first. 

Ryder anxiously awaits the regular-season opener, which is slated for June 11 against the host Edmonton Elks. 

Five days later, the Roughriders welcome the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. 

“I turn 47 on June 16 … at the home opener,” Ryder noted. “They’re playing on my birthday — finally!” 

He is a Rider fan by birthright, given the parental interest in the team. One of his favourite memories is watching the 1989 Grey Cup game, in which Saskatchewan defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 43-40, on television with his father. 

“Football … I just love it,” Ryder said while watching a training-camp practice with his girlfriend, Charity Jess. 

“I love driving down to Regina. I love the games. I love the camaraderie at Grey Cup.  

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Roughriders fan, a Blue Bombers fan, a Stampeders fan or an Argonauts fan. The Grey Cup is a combination of everyone coming together. It’s just so much fun.” 


Offensive lineman Philip Blake is more than a decade removed from his first training camp as a professional football player.
He was introduced to the pro ranks in July of 2012 after being a fourth-round pick of the Denver Broncos. How have things evolved since then? 

“When I first started in the NFL, for me it was about learning, so basically it’s kind of flipped right now,” said Blake, 37, who made his CFL debut in 2015. “I’m teaching (the younger players) from my experience and trying to shorten the learning curve that I went through. If there are any mistakes, I’ll point them out and try to get them up to speed.” 

That is done while keeping in mind that football isn’t all about X’s and O’s and minutiae. 

“Always have fun,” Blake said. “Playing offensive line, you get scrutiny and all that stuff. You never really get (your name) called until you mess up. 

“It’s about making sure you always have short-term memory and that you’re working together and communicating together.” 


Roughriders defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore, noted thwarter of offences, wants to stop every drive but one. 

He needs someone to pilot his car from Vancouver to Regina. 

Such is life when you are drafted by a CFL team on May 2 and need to be at rookie camp in time for the first workout eight days later. 

“At first, you’ve got to deal with the contract stuff, and you get through that,” said the former UBC Thunderbirds standout, whose signing was announced by the Roughriders six days after he was drafted. 

“Then it was quick. I had to pack up my entire apartment in Vancouver and get all my stuff out of there. I basically moved half my stuff on a flight over here (to Saskatoon) and now I’m waiting to get my car out here with the rest of my stuff. 

“But it has been awesome. Obviously, my goal is to come out here and compete and make this team and hopefully be here for the long run.” 

At the same time, he hopes that a long drive is in the near future for some helpful individual. 

“The other half of my stuff is still in my car,” Korte-Moore said with a chuckle. “I’m still trying to find someone to bring it out for me. 

“I think I’ve got some people who will bring it out for the first game of the year. I’ll be able to have some family and friends come to that, so it’ll be awesome.” 

Considering the need for Korte-Moore to be reunited with his vehicle, perhaps “Bring It Out” could replace “Bring ’Em Out” for one game only. 

A family member might be entrusted with the not-inconsiderable responsibility of bringing the Lake-mobile to Saskatchewan. 

“Or my old roommates,” Korte-Moore noted. “They really want to come out for a game. They’ve heard how awesome the fan base is and how much fun football games are out here. They want to come out and see one, for sure, so I may get them to do it.” 

Only one problem: Sans vehicle, how would they get back to Vancouver?  

“I may have to throw a little money that way and pay for the plane ticket,” he said, “but it’ll be worth it, for sure.” 

First-year Roughriders head athletic therapist Greg Mayer took note of the changes of scenery and vocation while walking on to the practice field during a sun-swept Week 1 session at training camp. 

Pointing toward the sun, Mayer quipped: “Twenty-six years of being in a rink. What is this?”
Mayer was with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors for seven seasons before spending the next 19 years with the Regina Pats. 

• Receiver Jake Herslow, a Week 1 head-turner at training camp, injured his left knee during Thursday’s workout. He was wearing a knee brace on Saturday. At that point, Head Coach Craig Dickenson had yet to receive a definitive diagnosis on the nature of the injury. 

  • Dickenson is raving about the Roughriders’ quintet of running backs. Incumbents Jamal Morrow and Frankie Hickson are joined by newcomers B.J. Emmons, Javian Hawkins and Rodney Smith. “We’ve got two of the best in Frankie and JaMo,” Dickenson said on Saturday, “and the three behind them are really good, too,” Hawkins is nursing an ankle injury that is not expected to cost him significant training-camp time.
  • Receiver Jake Wieneke is nursing a minor hamstring injury but, in the words of Dickenson, “should be fine.”
  • Speaking of Fine … the “Mean Green Ice Cream Machine” visited the Gordie Howe Sports Complex on Saturday. Hopefully, Roughriders quarterback Mason Fine sampled the flavours. His college team, after all, was the North Texas Mean Green.