December 24, 2017

Christmas Q&A I Wally Buono

To put it simply, the holidays are the best time of year. Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra music is always within earshot, family is around and the alluring aroma of turkey is growing stronger. It’s an opportunity to embrace your inner-child and get wrapped up in the spirit of Christmas.

Here at BCLions.com, we are catching up with some of the players and coaches from your BC Lions to find out their favourite things about the holidays. Recently we had the chance to talk with the Lions’ head coach and VP of football operations, Wally Buono.

Santa Claus is the head man in the North Pole. It’s thanks to his meticulous planning that the elves are able to succeed in their mission to prepare gifts for millions of children across the globe and Santa is also a decisive leader at the reins as he steers nine reindeer through the dark night with only Rudolph’s bright red nose to use for light. Wally Buono, the winningest coach in the history of the Canadian Football League, is the BC Lions’ version of Kris Kringle.

Buono is in the process of preparing for his 12th and final season as the head coach of the BC Lions. A key figure in the organization for the last 16 years, Wally has coached the Leos to ten playoff appearances, eight division finals and a pair of Grey Cup titles. Wally’s winning on the field and strong moral compass off it has allowed him to become one of the most recognized and respected faces in the Canadian sports landscape.

Football is Wally’s job, but his family is his top priority. The holidays represent a great opportunity for the hardworking coach to spend some quality time with his wife Sandy, their four children and their six grandchildren.

Q: What do you look forward to most about the holidays?

A: “Well for me, what I look forward to most is getting together with my family and my grandkids. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, that’s something that has always been a heavy emphasis for me.”

Q: Do you have any Christmas traditions?

A: “The one thing that we definitely do before we unwrap presents is take the Bible out and read The Christmas Story. I did that with my kids and now I do that with my grandkids. It’s just the idea that Christmas means a lot of different things to people but the reason that Christmas is celebrated is because of the birth of Christ and the whole concept of gift-giving comes from God giving us the gift of his son.”

Q: What kind of food do you eat for Christmas Dinner?

A: “We have a fun way to do it. Christmas Eve, my kids love this, my wife cooks Greek food. Christmas Day, we usually have a traditional dinner with a turkey, dressing and sweet potatoes. Christmas morning, we definitely have to get up and have cinnamon buns.”

Q: What is your role in helping prepare the dinner?

A: “My job is usually to make the sweet potatoes and the gravy. I make really good gravy.”

Q: Do you enjoy decorating the house for the holidays?

A: “I’m don’t, but my wife does. She likes doing all of that stuff. We always put up a tree and have lots of presents wrapped up under it. Sandy does a great job with all of that.”

Q: What is your favourite Christmas movie?

A: “Honestly, I like them all. I’ve always enjoyed sitting down and watching Christmas movies with my kids and my grandkids.”

Q: What is your favourite Christmas song?

A: “I really enjoy going to church and hearing the Christmas hymns. Silent Night has always been a special one for me because I can remember listening to it ever since I was a little kid.”

Q: Is there a memorable moment you can think of from Christmas as a kid?

A: “When I was a kid, Christmas for us was different. We were immigrants and there was very little money. The way they did Christmas in Italy wasn’t typical of how we do it here. If you were lucky you got a piece of coal and if you were really lucky you got a piece of fruit. There were no gifts. They didn’t have the finances for gifts. But for me, the important thing about Christmas has always been the family gathering and the food.”

On behalf of Wally Buono and the BC Lions, we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

bhelberg@bclions.com