In episode 33 of 1st and Now presented by iA Financial Group, host Matt Baker heads to the shores of Kingston, Ontario to connect with BC Lions offensive lineman and all-around great guy, Andrew Peirson. From playing his university football at a small, non-traditional program to making the most of his opportunity as a non-drafted free agent, Peirson represents one of the great feel-good stories the CFL is all about. Peirson was asked about a variety of topics, including the pride he takes in being from Kingston and making the historical town his offseason home.
“It’s a great opportunity to spent time with my family. My girlfriend is here so we can spend some time in my childhood spots and everything like that. Yeah, I love Kingston. It’s not too big, it’s not too small and it’s a wonderful place,” Peirson said.
And as a guy who spent four days in Kingston as part of a Lions extended road trip in 2017, Matt knows all about some of the historical landmarks of the city. From the famous Kingston Penitentiary to the Fort Henry National Historic site, any history buff would truly enjoy visiting Canada’s former capital.
“All the old-time limestone buildings down there, it’s beautiful and it’s not too touristy. It’s a little bit, but not too much,” Peirson added.
“It’s a great set up though.; especially all the downtown places that didn’t have patios, not have patios so it’s a pretty fun place. And Kingston has done very well with corona. We had a little bit of an outbreak but since then there’s only been like one in the last two months so everyone’s being really responsible here, wearing masks and everything like that so yeah I can’t speak highly enough of Kingston.”
Growing up, Perison played every sport he could from hockey to rugby and even tried his hand at figure skating, something that helped him learn a few of the bigger technical requirements that come with offensive line play.
“When you think of offensive linemen, we’re big guys but we have to be so precise in every movement we do, starting with our feet and moving up to our hands placement,” Peirson said.
“Coach (Kelly) Bates puts a lot of focus on hand placement and down to the smallest inches in our eyes and everything like that. Figure skating is one of those things I didn’t do it for very long but from a young age, it instilled in me the importance of those little details. Moving into hockey the same thing, it’s a game of inches. A lot of sports are. So really being a finesse guy, that also translates into my offseason training. I try to take that and really work on change of direction and body control.”
From Kingston To The Lions Den
After high school, Peirson moved to Erie, Pennsylvania and Gannon University where he made the adjustment to university football and was a double major in Finance and Entrepreneurship. After going unselected in the 2018 CFL Draft, Peirson landed with the Lions as a free agent.
Once camp broke in Kamloops, his hard work and determination had landed him a spot on the practice squad. And then in September, Peirson found himself starting at centre following injuries to Cody Husband and fellow rookie Peter Godber. The Kingston native credits the tutelage of Husband and those other veteran offensive linemen for helping him prepare mentally for the challenge.
“My whole life I have been the product of people around me. One thing is, Cody was unbelievable,” Perison explained of his biggest mentor.
“Cody was behind me in every single game, with my iPad, I was staring at the film, and he was right over my shoulder. We’re talking about a ten-year vet that was over my shoulder, helping me out every single home game. That’s a testament to Cody’s character. Now he’s in police foundations and the family is doing well. Cody’s a great guy and I had a great coach in Dan Dorazio that prepared me immensely. (He) over-prepared which is what you want. You want to prepare in practice more so when it comes to games it’s like ‘that wasn’t that bad.’ ”
And once the game got going, it was the players on the other side of the line of scrimmage that caught Peirson’s attention.
“That first game, we were playing Toronto and Cleon Lang is by no means a dud so he’s easily top five or top three defensive tackles in the league,” he remembers.
“And then (Freddie) Bishop was right next to him so these are two guys, they’re solid. And the thing is too, I had two solid guards. Hunter Steward who I was living with this past offseason, great guy; he took me under his wing and believed in me. Everyone bought in. Fig was there too. Foucault was right next to me, so I had a good group of guys. Jovan was still there, so you’re talking about a good group of veteran players that were around me.”
Peirson and the Lions won three straight once he suited up and ultimately made the playoffs thanks to their big second-half turnaround. He would spend all but one game in 2019 on the practice squad and the news that the 2020 season won’t happen has only motivated him to hit the ground running once we get to training camp, hopefully, next May. That Kingston upbringing has definitely prepared him for the pro football grind.