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Author Topic: Renewed Motivation | Ekakitie Ready for Year Two  (Read 1903 times)
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« on: March 06, 2018, 05:31:01 AM »

Renewed Motivation | Ekakitie Ready for Year Two - Ed Tait

Faith Ekakitie slips off his Iowa leather jacket, pulls off his toque, and drops into a chair in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football operations department.

Over the course of the next 30 minutes, the big defensive tackle - selected first overall by the Bombers less than a year ago - smiles easily and often. His mood undoubtedly speaks of his comfort level - he and his wife Mikaela have made Winnipeg their year-round home and are absolutely loving it.

"I did tell her it was cold," Ekakitie explained with a grin. "But it was her idea. After the season, I asked her 'What do you want to do?' And she said, 'What do you mean?'

"We were both college athletes (Mikaela, who hails from Wisconsin, played volleyball at Iowa) and were told for like four years where we had to be and when we had to be there. And so all of a sudden, we didn't have any obligations. We could have gone anywhere in the world and lived for six months but she said she wanted to stay here. She loves Winnipeg. And I love it, too."

Mikaela has just found employment locally after landing her work permit and is also coaching volleyball. And Ekakitie, when he isn't speaking at schools on behalf of the club, has been in the gym vowing to build on his rookie season in the Canadian Football League.

Ekakitie suited up for 14 games last year as a Bomber, seeing time as a rotational tackle along the defensive line. But his impact, admittedly, was limited as he finished the year with five tackles.

"It was a huge learning experience," said Ekakitie. "I remember being asked a year ago what my goals were and they were to come in and contribute to the team. Looking back, I feel like I didn't give myself the chance to compete for as much playing time as I would have liked.

"Part of that was circumstance, but a lot of it is just on me. Coming into camp, to put it bluntly, I was too fat and out of shape."

Ekakitie played at around 290 pounds in his final year with the Hawkeyes, and in preparation for Iowa's Pro Day in front of National Football League scouts, it was recommended he bulk up by adding weight. He was at 304 for the Pro Day and then about 307 when he arrived at Bombers rookie camp last May. Couple that with the unknown that had suddenly come into his life - moving to a new city, adjusting to the three-down game, getting his wife settled here and the stress of being the first-overall pick - and Ekakitie admittedly occasionally struggled with the adjustment from college to professional athlete.

To be clear, those aren't meant as excuses, but the simple reality of what he went through a year ago.

Now his focus has not only changed, but has become more intense. He's settled now, Mikaela is working and Ekakitie has found the drive that took him from a project player at Iowa, through a redshirt season, then an injury-plagued year before becoming a starter halfway through his senior season.

Yes, some athletes find success instantly. Others, like Ekakitie, must approach the grind like a marathon.

"Going through what I did at Iowa taught me the value of patience and perseverance," he explained. "Bringing all that back to this... I wasn't where I wanted to be at the beginning of my career at Iowa and I'm not where I want to be at the beginning of my career as a professional. But I did get where I wanted to be at Iowa and I feel like the biggest thing is having faith in myself. It may not happen when I want it to happen, but at some point it will happen if I stick to it.

"When I was in high school all I wanted to do was chase that dream of playing D-1 ball. I wanted to get back to that same drive, that same hunger and motivation that I had back then. I have it again.?

Ekakitie has been a regular at the gym, playing pick-up basketball, taking in cycling classes and working on his speed. Interestingly, it was a chance meeting with a Bomber legend that helped him understand how he had to attack all this.

"I met Doug Brown last year at Justin Medlock's Variety Club Dinner," said Ekakitie. "He walked in, this huge guy, and I said, 'Who's that?' I was told it was Doug Brown and that he was a hall of famer. So I said, 'I've got to talk to this guy.'

"We didn't talk just about football. I was picking his brain. I realize we're not the same athletes they always tell you to watch film of the guys who do it the best, but he?s 6-8 and has arms out to here. I'm not going to play like him. But he did help by telling me what he did in each offseason to get ready. I still see him at the gym once in a while.

"What surprised me is the guys who played for six, seven, eight years up here," Ekakitie.

"There's Doug and I also met Obby (Khan) the other day and he played for eight years. That almost blows my mind. You hear about the NFL - 'Not For Long' league and then there's guys like Doug and Obby. That's encouraging to me. Knock on wood, I'd like to get to play that long."

https://www.bluebombers.com/2018/03/05/renewed-motivation-ekakitie-ready-year-two/
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 01:20:57 PM »

haha, this is the best quote ever, I'm a little surprised they went with it: "Part of that was circumstance, but a lot of it is just on me. Coming into camp, to put it bluntly, I was too fat and out of shape."
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The Zipp
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 01:33:26 PM »

I think it speaks to how much preparation, physical and mental toughness it takes to be a pro football player....I am always willing to give a first round pick a bit more time to learn the game and learn what it takes to be a pro...honestly I think the Bombers could do a better job of getting alumni engaged with rookies like Faith...the only way he got a chance to chat with Doug Brown is a chance social meeting??

Of course the alumni has to be willing but man get these guys set up with a mentor like Brown right from the get go...conversely these young guys should also be seeking out these legends who have recently played for the team and live in the same city - gotta some initiative too.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 01:34:58 PM by The Zipp » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2018, 02:29:56 AM »

He better be inspired to make a leap forward or else it is another first round bust for KW!

This year he needs to step up and be at minimum a consistent performer at his position. Or he could be done.
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2018, 02:50:48 AM »

He sucked last year.
I went to a couple practices.
At the end he was all by himself lumbering twenty yard "runs" in the end zone
It was pathetic.  He was trying to run,  and it was. Stumbling jog.

I thought is that a Bomber? And it dawned on me me it was him.

How do they scout these guys? I mean do they watch  him train, play pick up basketball, lift weights.what was his aerobic program.?

If a pro isn't doing any of that in the off season, ya better pass .
Hopefully this guy has been tuned up.

Where's Jake?
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gbill2004
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2018, 11:14:12 AM »

He sucked last year.
I went to a couple practices.
At the end he was all by himself lumbering twenty yard "runs" in the end zone
It was pathetic.  He was trying to run,  and it was. Stumbling jog.

I thought is that a Bomber? And it dawned on me me it was him.

How do they scout these guys? I mean do they watch  him train, play pick up basketball, lift weights.what was his aerobic program.?

If a pro isn't doing any of that in the off season, ya better pass .
Hopefully this guy has been tuned up.

Where's Jake?

I attended lots of Bomber practices last year and I didn?t see any of that. I saw a young guy working hard, with the right attitude, who wants to learn. I often saw him listening attentively to veteran players like Westerman and Jake Thomas. Ekakitie will soon become a good starter for us. I think his upside is higher than Jake Thomas too.
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Chris1982
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2018, 12:26:30 PM »

I think everyone had their own expectations for Ekakitie this year, and some people expected a lot more than they should have, so they were disappointed and looked at him as if he was a bust.

His 2nd year should be a lot more telling and give a lot more insight as to what he future is with the Bombers.
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gbill2004
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2018, 12:55:36 PM »

I think everyone had their own expectations for Ekakitie this year, and some people expected a lot more than they should have, so they were disappointed and looked at him as if he was a bust.

His 2nd year should be a lot more telling and give a lot more insight as to what he future is with the Bombers.
Well said. Sometimes it takes rookies a year or two.
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Duckman118
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2018, 12:59:44 PM »

He better be inspired to make a leap forward or else it is another first round bust for KW!

This year he needs to step up and be at minimum a consistent performer at his position. Or he could be done.
Chung?? Goosen?
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2018, 01:24:20 PM »

Chung?? Goosen?
Richards?
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booch
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2018, 01:31:59 PM »

I didn't see all that negative commentary about end of practice stuff last year either...tho I admit..as did he he came in out of shape..and heavy

I seen a guy putting in the work and learning the game and what he needs to do. From looks of him this winter too he has changed his physique to better suit the Canadian game and what is required of him.

He has a lot of upside and you have to remember he didn't really become a bonafide starter in NCAA until his senior year...so he is learning and growing on the fly. Show me first year draft picks who come in and just wow everybody and start...few and far between.

This is his year to take that step and show why he is here and Jake is not..pretty sure he will do that too
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theaardvark
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2018, 02:04:32 PM »

Richards?

2nd round...
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2018, 02:38:11 PM »

He just "didnt have it" last year........every high draft pick gets a year or two or even 3 to show.....hopefully this year he does.
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theaardvark
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2018, 03:25:17 PM »

He just "didnt have it" last year........every high draft pick gets a year or two or even 3 to show.....hopefully this year he does.

Sounds like he is motivated, both to be the best he can be, and to do it for his new home town.

It is amazing to see another athlete have his family embrace our wonderful city.  Being a Winnipegger by choice for 18 years, I know what a wonderful city we have, far preferable to the other cities I've lived in, both larger and smaller.

I am saddened when I hear life long Winnipegers slag the city, and have to giggle and elbow nudge people who have moved away and returned once they realized just how good they had it here. 

Winnipeg is a "Goldilocks" city... not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft... juuuust right.
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123James321
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2018, 04:34:58 PM »

Sounds like he is motivated, both to be the best he can be, and to do it for his new home town.

It is amazing to see another athlete have his family embrace our wonderful city.  Being a Winnipegger by choice for 18 years, I know what a wonderful city we have, far preferable to the other cities I've lived in, both larger and smaller.

I am saddened when I hear life long Winnipegers slag the city, and have to giggle and elbow nudge people who have moved away and returned once they realized just how good they had it here. 

Winnipeg is a "Goldilocks" city... not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft... juuuust right.


I agree about Winnipeg, just moved to Whitehorse and I kind of miss it, I would disagree about the temps though. to hot in the summers and too cold in the winters, very extreme. but the size, and the prices and things to do in the peg are pretty awesome. The cost of living is a huge thing too!!! I see myself returning once my career objective is complete
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