By Carson Ellis
The 2022-2023 season has been one that former Wm E. Hay Wildcat Theren Churchill will never forget.
First the birth of his son at the beginning of training season, then getting engaged to his girlfriend Hailie, and, finally, ending the CFL season by winning the Grey Cup with his team, The Toronto Argonauts.
Churchill was coming out of playing football for the University of Regina when he was picked up in the CFL’s 2020 draft.
Despite the first few seasons being hampered by COVID, Churchill continued to train and did his best to not only stay ready, but to improve himself despite there being no season in 2020. He would go on to play in 10 games in 2021 and 11 games in 2022 while continuing to spend his off-time training and improving himself.
When asked what it means to reach pro level for him, Churchill says that it has been ten years of hard work and sacrifice.
Starting in the local programs, then four years with the Edmonton Huskies before going to the University of Regina, Churchill says it has been a long road since graduating from William E. Hay; but, it’s been worth the wait.
Former Wildcats coach Norbert Baharally said seeing the former Wildcat making it to the CFL, and being able to bring the Grey Cup home is very exciting. He says that Churchill is committed and passionate.
Baharally says that Theren’s road to where he is hasn’t been easy and he’s made a lot of sacrifices which weren’t always easy for him.
On Tue, March 21, Churchill brought the CFL’s Grey Cup home to Stettler.
With the help of Stettler County resident Guy Neitz, he arranged several stops in town starting at the school complex, followed by a photo opportunity at Thrive 360, another one at the Stettler Recreation Centre, and then a private alumni meeting at the Recreation Centre as well. He also was recognized by the Town Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday.
“Being surrounded by great people and my closest supporters will be pretty special for me,” said Churchill, on how it feels to bring the Grey Cup home.
At all the stops along this local tour Churchill and his family were setup to take donations for Katie Bainbridge, one of the owners of Stettler’s Thrive 360.
Churchill explains Katie and Robin Speakman-Schwartz, who co-own Thrive 360, have been there for him practically since they opened their doors over ten years ago and gave him the opportunity to workout there any time he was home, even during COVID, whenever it could be allowed. They also gave him a job opportunity to train kids around the community and on the local football field.
It was an easy decision for him to help raise funds to help Bainbridge, who is undergoing chemotherapy, says Churchill.
Churchill says that Bainbridge: “….would be one of the first to help me or anyone else out in the community.” He describes her as an amazing supporter and a great person.
When asked about his plans for his football career, Churchill says he currently has one more year on his contract with Toronto, and will see what happens then. He hopes to play for as long as he can.
Churchill and his fiance and their son have settled nicely in Edmonton, where he does coach in the off-season with the Edmonton Huskies. Churchill entertains the possibility of a career in coaching when the time is right and he has moved on from his professional career.