It’s an old story when it comes to young guys playing rough and tumble sports that have a distressingly high possibility of injury: Greg Segal’s mom wasn’t too crazy about him playing football, while his dad, who played college ball in Waterloo, Ont., back in the day, was OK with it.
In the end, way back in Grade 7, Segal did start playing football and, for his last two years of high school, the native Montrealer enrolled in Groton, a prep school in Massachusetts, where he continued to develop his football skills.
Today he’s the third-string quarterback at McGill University, though in a recent playoff game against the University of Montreal Carabins, he was the backup to fellow Jewish player Jason Samuels. Samuels, who hails from Vancouver, ran the McGill offence in their playoff contest, but the team, which was 3-5 during the regular season, was outclassed in the playoff game by a score of 39-6.
Segal didn’t get into the game, but as his dad noted, it was probably the first time in the history of Canadian collegiate athletics that both starting quarterbacks on a single team were Jewish.
Another Jew, Zach Filion, a running back and tight end, is also on the team.
As the backup to the backup, Segal’s duties during the year mostly amounted to running the offence for the scout team. (The scout team consists of backups who run the plays of the team’s next opponents, allowing the defence to practice against their opponent’s offensive schemes.)
In his second year with the McGill football team, Segal played in one exhibition game. His strong point as a QB, he said, is “my ability to stay in the pocket, look down field and take a hit if necessary.
“I’m blind to pressure.”
It also helps that, at five foot 11 and 200 pounds, he’s built like a fire hydrant.
Even though McGill was outclassed in the playoff game, the team never faltered, Segal said.
Keeping a positive attitude was paramount and their opponents were coming into the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, with a bye week thrown in.
“Our mentality was to keep swinging until the final whistle,” Segal said.
Despite trailing throughout, they scored a third quarter touchdown to make it interesting. “We didn’t stop fighting and there were no sad faces until the game was over,” he said.
Though the season is over for McGill, Segal still has football on his mind: both he and Samuels will try to make the team next year, as well.
In the meantime, when he’s not hitting the books studying mining engineering, Segal will continue to train diligently, on the schedule prescribed by the team.
Twice a week, there are 6:30 a.m. runs, which focus on sprinting and are speed-oriented, he said.
On top of that, players work out four times a week in the gym, and practice throwing the football throughout the long, cold winter.