September 25, 2019

Pride Of Coquitlam Making An Impact

CFL football action between the BC Lions and the Ottawa Redblacks at TD Place Stadium, in Ottawa, Ont, Canada. Saturday SEPTEMBER 21 2019 (Photo by Icon Pictures / Marc Bourget-Roch Lambert)

Lemar Durant can pinpoint the exact moment he wanted to strap on the pads for a living. Flashback to his very early days with the Coquitlam Minor Football Association.

“I think was seven years old,” he recalls.

“My coach put me in as a running back and on the first play, I busted one 80 yards down to the one. I didn’t score on it but I knew right then and there I wanted to play football forever.”

And after starring at Centennial High School, catching balls from Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, finishing his college career close to home at SFU and being named the Most Valuable Canadian in Calgary’s 2018 Grey Cup win over Ottawa, the man who grew up going to Lions games and idolizing Geroy Simon is enjoying himself in his first season back home- even if the win/loss record isn’t what he expected it to be at this point.

“It’s been awesome. I just think the team, the staff and everyone we have here is really cool and I feel I’m really wanted here,” he said.

“I feel at home. I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that. I know the wins aren’t where we wanted them to be, but we’re just taking it one week at a time, trying to win that week individually and see how the season plays out.”

With 702 receiving yards, Durant has the most of any on this Lions team not named Bryan Burnham, has already shattered his previous season-high and enters this week’s clash with the Alouettes needing just 18 yards to reach 2,000 for his career.

Coming home to play in front of family and friends obviously made the Lions an attractive option once he hit free agency. But after four seasons behind a rotating group of ‘go-to’ receivers in Calgary, Durant felt he was ready to be an impact guy, not just someone with a Canadian birth certificate taking up a spot in the starting offence. So far, he has more than proved his worth.

Lemar Durant in action against the Ottawa RedBlacks on September 21st, 2019. Photo: Marc Bourget/Roch Lambert.


“That was huge. At this point in my career, I feel I had already accomplished a lot but the main thing was I always felt I wasn’t reaching my potential or wasn’t being given a chance to show what I can do,” Durant explained.

“When they (the Lions) talked to me they said I was going to get the opportunity to be one of the go-to guys and I just wanted to come here and not disappoint them.”

He may be gravitating toward being a leader in the offence, but he has still relied on some of the veterans around him to help him get better. Durant credits Burnham for helping him with that important transition.

“It’s huge. He’s just a good guy and we sit next to each other in the locker room,” Durant said.

“We clicked right away and became friends. It’s good to watch him. He’s been probably the most consistent receiver in this league the last four years. Having him around is huge and it also helps that a lot of the attention goes to him. It frees me up some. I try to pay that favour back. It’s just been a good dynamic for both of us.”

Growing up playing youth sports in Coquitlam, Durant had that similar guidance from both of his parents; Frank, a construction worker and Rebecca who works in online marketing. His dad was also a high-level athlete in high school and college and that made for some good practice outside of regular team activity.

Lemar Durant runs to the end zone in a home game against the Ottawa RedBlacks on Friday, September 13th. Photo: Paul Yates.


“They were probably more excited about me signing here than I actually was,” Durant laughed.

“They love coming to the games and supporting me. I was happy I could do it for them. My mom supported me in everything and my Dad was the guy bringing me to my games. He made sure he never missed one. He always pushed me and he was one of the best athletes I have ever seen to this day, even when he was 40 I had a hard time keeping up with him. That always kept me kind of humble and made me push harder. I always wanted to be able to beat him in certain things we did. Words can’t describe everything they have both done for me.”

They will be cheering loudly and proudly this Saturday when Lemar and the Lions look to keep the playoff push alive against Montreal.

And along with that burning desire to win more games, Durant isn’t yet satisfied with his own improvement.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give. I’ve had a great year but I know I can be better.”

That long scamper in his youth football days was indeed the start of something big.

Matt Baker: