If you are a CFL fan, you may not recognize this linebacker on the streets- at least not with his new haircut. Yannick Carter, of the Calgary Stampeders, recently cut off his notorious dreadlocks, 14 years in the making, to support the Canadian Cancer Society. He may seem like a tough guy on the field, but this Pickering, ON native has got a soft side. A former Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk, he has a big heart when it comes to animal aide and, as any good man should, lots of respect for his mother.
With a Grey Cup ring on his finger and a Vanier Cup under his belt, what else does Yannick Carter have going for him? We have 22 questions to find out.
23 Questions with Yannick Carter
1. Right off the bat, I have to ask, what was it like winning the Grey Cup?
Winning the Grey Cup was at the end of the day bitter sweet. Being a rookie and part of a Grey Cup team is a tremendous accomplishment when you look at the some of the greats that went years without winning such as Milt Stegall. Down side to it was that I became spoiled and assumed it was going to happen again and again, now 7 years into my career I am still endlessly trying to make it back to the big dance let alone win it.
2. You are also a winner of the Vanier Cup. Tell us about that win. How do the 2 compare?
Winning the Vanier Cup personally trumps winning the Grey Cup. Getting to the Vanier Cup was a four year process having to go through defeat season after season with the same guys made it that much more rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, winning the Grey Cup was and forever will be a memorable experience in my life, it just came within my first year of being within the CFL so I didn’t experience those struggles to get to that point.
3. How old were you when you started football, and at what age did you start to take it seriously?
I started playing football when I was about 10-12 years of age and for the most part it was just a way to get me out of the house, maintain a level of activity as video games were becoming a prevalent part of children’s lives at the time. I didn’t really start taking it serious until I got to high school and realized the doors of opportunities it could open up, such as scholarships and traveling to places you otherwise would have never visited.
4. So what did 10 year old Yannick want to be when he grew up?
10 year old Yannick wanted to do the same thing 29 year old Yannick wants to do. Oddly enough, since I was a child, I’ve always had an interest, maybe even just short of an obsession, with NASCAR and becoming a driver.
5. So what you are telling me, is that if you could be a professional athlete in any other sport, it would be…
A NASCAR driver… Love the idea of rim rockin’ through the high-line in the draft during the Daytona 500.
6. You have played with a few teams in the CFL (Saskatchewan, Hamilton, and Calgary) – which city has been your favourite to live in and why?
Haha with being such a small league this question can’t be answered till I retire. Don’t want to close off any doors or opportunities that may come up in the future. Right now, I am really enjoying the lifestyle provided in Calgary and the way the organization is ran. I forsee myself playing in Calgary for many more years to come.
7. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
My pre-game rituals are quite extensive, oddly enough since I don’t buy into rituals within any other aspect of my life. I have a book that gets me in the right mind frame of playing football called Mind Gym – An Athletes Guide To Inner Excellence by Gary Mack. Essentially it deals with becoming a better athlete through positive thoughts of mind and nothing more. I will walk the perimeter of the field and read a chapter or two. Once that’s done I will continue to walk and envision myself making plays against my opponent which I’ve specifically prepped for through film study. My entire pre-game ritual falls within specific time frames such as when I eat, do my pre-game stretch, use of the hot and cold tubs and other various activities. Altogether it’s about a 4-1/2 process before I take the field.
8. Do you have any pump up songs?
I consider myself to be somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to being a professional football player. Where most listen to songs that get them pumped up I do the opposite. I listen to R&B music, stuff that calms me down. I personally believe I operate at my best when I am calm and collected. At those times everything on the football field seems to settle and move a little slower allowing me to process things more efficiently which is vital considering the speed at which things happen on the field.
9. When in season, what is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me in season usually starts at 5 in the morning where I get up to walk my little lady before I leave for the day. Get in from a walk around 5:45 at which time I make breakfast or at the very least a protein smoothie. Get into the stadium for 6:30 where I do my morning physio/treatment to maintain a healthy body and manage the soreness from the week before. Meetings from 9-10:30, practice from 11-1, meetings again from 1-2. Back home around 2:30 just in time to pick up the little lady again and go for another walk or visit to the dog park. Then it’s on to the gym from 4-6, home to make dinner and walk the lady for a third time and the rest of the night is for entertainment (TV, dinner with teammates etc.).
10. Do you have any embarrassing football moments you would like to erase from history?
2005 Vanier Cup, late in the fourth we were up on the board and just needed a stop to put our O back on the field. Deep in their own end, Saskatchewan ran a run play and for some strange inexplicable reason I tried to do too much on that one play and got caught off guard, missed my gap responsibility and before I knew it, the running back had just broke one off for 70+ yards to put their team in the lead. Possibly the lowest moment of my football life knowing I nearly cost the team our entire season and what we worked so hard for.
11. Actually, I was going to ask…is there one specific play that you will always remember…
In 2005 for Laurier I was going through a drought that season and couldn’t catch an interception if my life depended on it. I believe that year I dropped close to, if not more, than five interceptions. Towards the end of the season playing against York University I “caught” my first interception of the year. I use air quotations because I didn’t actually catch it as much as I took it out of the hands of another receiver before he came down from jumping to catch it. Due to the nature of the rules it counted as an interception but in all actuality the receiver caught it and I took it from him and ran it back 80yards for a pick six, first in my career.
12. Outside of football you work in real estate. What got you interested in that field?
I bought a house as an investment property with my Grey Cup winnings and it turned out to be a costly experience due to the fact that I wasn’t informed by my agent, their brokerage, builder and my real estate lawyer. Based on that bad experience I started looking into the industry to find out what legal rights I had only to find out my ignorance towards the industry put me in a very compromised position to be taken advantage of. This lead me to becoming an agent in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t happen to those who enlist my services at the very least.
13. Do you cook?
I do cook…
14. What is your favourite meal?
Favourite meal is probably a lemon pepper chicken with baked sweet potato bits.
16. When you aren’t training, what do you do for fun?
I recently picked up road biking. From time to time I will engage in a book. Comedy clubs have been an interest of mine…the dog park with the lady.
17. If you could play for ANY football team, who it would be…?
Well, it would have been the Dallas Cowboys but after the years of psychological warfare they’ve waged against their fan base I have been forced to reconsider that. I’ll get back to you once I have it figured out.
18. What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been outside of sports?
Purchasing a house at 24. I grew up living a semi-decent life but money was always an issue for the family. So being about to come from that and still be able to get myself into a position of financial stability has been rewarding, seeing that typically children who grow up in those lifestyles tend to carry it forward into their adult years.
19. If you were to retire today, what would you be doing with your time?
Once I retire and if I was to retire to today I would be continuing to work as a realtor with intentions of getting into flipping houses and the rental business. In addition, I would continue and expand the work I do with the humane society and probably seek a role within to further help out with abuse and neglected animals.
20. Who has been the most influential person in your football career?
As cliché as it may sound, it’s my mother. She put me into the sport and I fell in love with it. Seeing her come to my games and the joy she gets from watching is enough to keep me playing through the many struggles that one has as an athlete.
21. Experiencing what you have thus far, what advice would you give to your 15 year old self?
I’ve felt to date my biggest opponent has been that of myself. In those moments where I haven’t been successful, I look back and realize the one constant in all of those times is that I’ve doubted myself in my mind, therefore defeating myself before my opponent had to do anything. I would advise myself eliminate any and all negative self-fulfilling prophecies in my mind, focus on what I can do and not what I can’t do.
22. What do you want to be remembered for?
Tough question… I don’t know what I want to be remembered for. Never really thought about that… I guess I just want to simply have more people remember me for having a positive impact or impression in their lives that those who don’t.
23. Who would you recommend to be the next Sports Babe of the Day?
(Let’s just say I’m already seeking out my NASCAR contacts…)
Thanks Yan for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with us! Fans can follow Yannick on twitter here (@YannickCarter48). If you are ever looking for real estate in Milton, ON, you know who’s got your back! Let’s give this guy something to do in his off season.