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August 30, 2017

Chandler Fenner | Master of Many Arts

If technology continues to evolve the way it is supposed to, Chandler Fenner may go down as one of the more innovative pro athletes of our time. That’s because the second year BC Lion has a pretty decent explanation for a solid first half of the season playing defence: his longboard.

“That was a great investment because in camp it saves my legs a lot, going up that hill and not going to walk. I kind of felt bad because there is only room for one person as I ride by a couple of my teammates, but it really does help out a lot in camp,” explained Fenner.

For those not familiar, longboards are designed to be faster than skateboards, with some riders able exceed 50 miles per hour.

It definitely can come in handy for that uphill jaunt to the practice field at Hillside Stadium, especially in the blistering, high-30’s heat. The temperature wasn’t the only thing sizzling when camp broke on June 14th: the experiment of Fenner at nickel alongside Solomon Elimimian emerged as one of the more intriguing changes to a defence that was expected to have some tinkering.

Through nine games, he trails only Elimimian in total team defensive tackles with 39 and recording his first career interception in a win over Saskatchewan on August 5th. Fenner has also been a reliable member of the special teams cover unit. It’s safe to say moving from halfback hasn’t been too hard of an adjustment for the product of College of the Holy Cross.

Fenner in pursuit of Chris Williams in a victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS on October 1st, 2016.

“I enjoy any opportunity I have to get on the field and play so this has been a fun experience to play a new position and get used to it,” explained the native of Virginia Beach.

“I feel like I have grown with it as the weeks have continued. He (Elimimian) has been a huge help to me and that’s great company to be in.”

Fenner’s story of perseverance is something any youngster playing this game should aspire to. He was cut following 2016 training camp only to be brought back in September after injuries to TJ Lee, Ronnie Yell and Steven Clarke ravaged the secondary.

Playing mostly at halfback, Fenner stepped in for the remaining eight regular season games, plus the playoffs. While on the shelf, he spent some quality time working out with a group of former Seattle Seahawks teammates that included Richard Sherman. Fenner was on the practice squad when Seattle won their Super Bowl title at the end of 2013 and counts that experience as one of the most valuable he has ever had.

“It’s really a great family that we have there and its’ good to just always have that lifeline, to be able to go back and work on things so you’re never really in an offseason,” said Fenner of his Legion of Boom buddies.

“Richard is a great role model for me and a bunch of the younger guys, as far as his work ethic and being a student of the game. That’s what I try to take with him, being a real student of the game and a true competitor. He has those great qualities that you want to emulate and add to your own game.”

Fenner (Left) and Richard Sherman at the Seahawks Super Bowl parade in February, 2014.

Football and longboarding are not the only arts Fenner has mastered in his young career. He minored in Visual Arts at Holy Cross and uses that creative mind when not consumed on the intricacies of football.

“I am into music, drawing and dance, all those things, and I love anything creative that has to do with innovation,” said Fenner.

“I was one class away from double majoring (in Visual Arts) and obviously used that time to focus on football. There is this thing called the Machine Two and it helps me produce and create my own music. It’s not with me in BC this year because I don’t want the distraction, but I can spend hours producing my own tracks. You can set your own tempo and beats per minute. Anything you hear on the radio you can make out of that. It has all the tools to create your own sounds.”

Where the artist really likes to get creative is when he has a simple sheet of paper with some sketching tools.

“I really like to draw people, I’m not into landscapes unless it is digital media. I draw ideas and things that come to mind. Sometimes I will try and mix different categories together like a person that is part robot with animal tendencies; like a robot with claws, for example. Maybe I will have to draw something like that and show you.”

His Lions’ claws have been sharp and that’s nothing but good news for a defence that just proved it can hang around with the likes of Bo Levi Mitchell and Calgary. Now the focus is on Ottawa where a victory could spark a little longboarding on the turf at TD Place Stadium. Perhaps that can wait until we see if they are lucky enough to return to Ottawa in late November.

Fenner celebrates his first career interception in win over Saskatchewan on August 5th, 2017.

 

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com