Demski, Grey Cup make visit to Oak Park

It was the Monday morning after spring break when Oak Park High School principal Troy Scott received a call from one of the school’s most well-known alumnus, Nic Demski.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver called to say that he wanted to bring the Grey Cup back to where he first made a name for himself in the sport.

As you can imagine, Scott quickly signed off on that idea.

The plan came to fruition on Monday as Demski, as well as Bombers running back Brady Oliveira, brought the top prize in three-down football to their former high school for students and staff to enjoy. Oak Park held an assembly for their two heroes and played a highlight video that included some of their top plays from their high school football days with the Raiders.

“This is definitely one of the first things I wanted to do once I got my hands on the cup,” Demski told the Free Press.

“To be able to bring it back to the school where football took off for me, it means the world to me. I hit up Brady and Brady was immediately down to come out here because I know how much this school means to him, too. It’s all about giving back when you’re in our shoes.”

<p>Grade 12 students Kyla Marquez and Ian Surasky pose for a selfie with Brady Olivera (centre left), Nic Demski, and the Grey Cup at Oak Park School in Winnipeg on Monday.</p>
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Grade 12 students Kyla Marquez and Ian Surasky pose for a selfie with Brady Olivera (centre left), Nic Demski, and the Grey Cup at Oak Park School in Winnipeg on Monday.

Missing from the festivities was former Bombers star running back Andrew Harris, who is now a member of the Toronto Argonauts.

“Yeah, it is a little (bittersweet), but it’s part of the business that we sign up for,” said Demski, the Most Outstanding Canadian in December’s Grey Cup in Hamilton.

“I’ll never have any bad blood with Andrew. That’s my dawg for life and my big brother for life.”

Both Demski and Oliveira gave credit to the coaching at Oak Park for making them the players that they are today.

“It’s some of the best coaching in high school football, hands down, and that’s definitely what elevated my football game,” said the 24-year-old Oliveira.

“I grew up in Garden City and came here to play football and it was the coaching that helped my game and took me to the next level and allowed me to get a full-ride scholarship to North Dakota. The coaching and the time they put into their athletes here is amazing.”

Most of the credit for Oak Park’s coaching goes to Stu Nixon, who has been leading the school’s football program for 20 years. Nixon coached Harris, Demski, and Oliveira, but this past season will be his last as he is retiring from coaching and teaching.

<p>Stu Nixon (centre) greets Nic Demski (left) and Brady Olivera during their visit to Oak Park School.</p>
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Stu Nixon (centre) greets Nic Demski (left) and Brady Olivera during their visit to Oak Park School.

“It was the week before the championship game and I was in Grade 12 and it was the biggest game in my life at that point. I just remember having swollen ankles. There was definitely something going on with my ankles and I didn’t want to go to the hospital or anything like that because I didn’t want to chance not playing,” Demski, 28, recalled.

“So, I told (Nixon) ‘I don’t think I should be practising this week.’ And I just remember, it’s a moment that will always stick with me. He looked me in the eye and called me a couple things that I can’t say in the newspaper, but he told me ‘If you want to be a complete player, it’s not just about being physical, you have to be mentally tough, too.’ That has always stuck with me throughout the course of my career.”

For Nixon, seeing two of his former athletes bring the cup back is the perfect way to close out his career.

Well, almost.

“Could you write it any better than this? Well, I guess if our team won the championship this year that would’ve been just that much better, but this is the next best thing for sure,” said Nixon.

But it’s not just the fact that Demski and Oliveira are two-time Grey Cup champions, it’s how they’ve gone about doing it is what makes Nixon the most proud.

“They’ve made good choices all the way throughout their careers. They don’t have huge egos, they don’t make decisions that are bad for the community and their performance,” Nixon said.

“They’ve always made the right decisions, right from when they were in Grade 9 to all the way up.”

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

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