Former Utah State football player John Chick has become a standout on and off the field. Chick plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, and as a type 1 diabetic, is an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Chick, who played for the Aggies from 2002-2005, was a four-year starter at Utah State and in 2002 became the first USU freshman to start a season at defensive end in nine years. During his senior year, he ranked fifth in the NCAA with 12.5 quarterback sacks and earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors. He finished his Aggie career with 163 tackles, with 39 for a loss, including 23.5 quarterback sacks. The former Aggie signed as a free agent with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in December, 2006 and helped the `Riders win the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup in 2007. Chick is from Gillette, Wyo., and he and his wife Catherine have three children. Recently, Chick took some time to talk about his life, family and football. What is it like playing in the CFL? It’s a little bit of a different game, but all in all it’s the same football. Especially at my position at defensive end, it’s been a blast. The field is a little bigger – wider and longer – and there are three downs instead of four. The line of scrimmage is a yard and the receivers get the advantage of running forward before the snap of the ball. Also there are 12 men instead of 11. How does the physicality differ from college or NFL? On average there is less running the ball because you only have three downs to get a first down instead of four. So it becomes a little less physical in that way but I don’t know the exact differences. A lot of the guys up here played Division I football or in the NFL. Because of the difference in field size you get a lot of NFL guys that for whatever reason aren’t in quite as good of shape before this (the CFL). You find in general that guys aren’t as big here because there is more field to cover. What is it like living in Canada? It’s been a great experience and we live in a real good community. I always compare the Roughriders to the Packers of the NFL – a community owned team – and we’re loved all over Canada. The fans here are crazy. When we go to an away game, we often times have more fans than the home team. The winters are pretty cold. There are several days in the winter that get to 50 below zero or more, but they (Canadians) are still outdoors all winter long. What is it like for your family? I grew up in Wyoming and my wife grew up in Wisconsin, so we’ve been able to adjust pretty well. What are some of the difficulties of playing football with Diabetes? I wouldn’t say that there are any more difficulties as far as playing football, but as a diabetic you always have to make sure to watch your blood sugar, but it would be that way for anything that I’d be doing. I think it’s helped me be a better athlete by helping me stay focused on eating good and exercising. You are an ambassador and spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), can you explain what you do for this and why? The 2007 season was my first year in the CFL and that year we won the Grey Cup Championship. I had always hoped to get an opportunity to do some public speaking for the team and one day I was approached by the local chapter (of JDRF) to speak on their behalf. Basically I go out and promote and do fundraising every year. We do a walk and it brings out families and anyone else who is affected by diabetes, and the funds raised goes to the JDRF. How do you keep a balance between football, family, speaking, etc.? It’s just like any job really. Football is a job, and at the same time I’m doing a hundred other things. When I’m not doing that I’m with my kids so I wouldn’t say it’s different than what most people do. It’s just that I get to play a game at the end of the week. Do you follow Utah State’s football team? Yeah, I have been following them the last couple years. This year I see that they’re scoring a lot of points, but they need to slow down the points on defense a little bit. Do you keep in contact with past coaches/teammates? None of the coaches are still there from when I was, but yeah I keep in touch with some coaches and teammates. What do you remember most about Utah State? The valley, people and the beautiful campus. I have a lot of memories there and I met my wife there. We’re a Catholic family and we really liked the Newman Center. I miss some football buddies and everything we had going there. Do you ever come back to Logan? My wife’s parents retired there so we try to get back at least once a year, if not more. What advice would you give to current football players? For me I was never the best athlete, and I’m still not at this level, but the one thing that always allowed me to stand out was hard work. Up here we’re the best team not because we have the most skilled players, but because we are a bunch of working-class guys who run to the ball, work hard and just out-work the other team. It’s awesome to be a part of a team like this and no matter how talented they are, you’ve got guys with passion that want to out-work each other. You get a lot more done than thinking you’re the big shot. I’ve been around guys who had all the talent in the world but walked around like they were the big thing and didn’t actually produce when it came down to it. Lose your ego as soon as you can so you can do what’s important. What are your future plans? I hope to be healthy enough to keep doing what I love for a while. Right now we’re just going to raise our kids and go where football takes us.
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