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Jun17WedIn and out of church, hard work pays off for Drake Nevis of the Toronto Argonauts. June 17, 2020 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
The last weekend of November 2019 was a good weekend to be Drake Nevis, then defensive tackle for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. After the Athletes in Action Grey Cup breakfast that Saturday, he proudly held his Gord Barwell Award with his wife, Reese, beaming beside him, and the following night he was triumphantly holding the Grey Cup.
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Reese’s Instagram account was full of videos and pictures of the big weekend, along with the following note to her husband: “The Gord Barwell Award has been presented for the past 20 years to a CFL player who exhibits exemplary faith, character and leadership, on and off the field. I’m proud to announce this year’s recipient is none other than my best friend, partner in ministry, my greatest gift and husband. The hard work you put in shows up everywhere you go.”
Practise and Experience
The 30-year-old was due for some celebrating. After becoming a pro football player in 2011, Drake moved to five different NFL towns, searching for the right fit with the right team. In 2015, he switched to the CFL and was on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ roster for two years before landing in Winnipeg. This past November, he helped the Blue Bombers win their first Grey Cup in 29 years, beating his former team 33-12.
“I just stayed focused, knowing that God has a plan no matter where He has you going,” Drake says of his journey. “He may want you to impact a certain group of people or just one person. No matter where you are located along the journey, your job is to let your light shine for Him.”
Despite the extra player and larger field in the CFL as opposed to the NFL, Drake was able to successfully make the necessary adjustments to his play style.
“I wanted to learn all I could about the game when I got here,” he explains. “You need to make sure you learn fast because the play clock is a lot different, too. The first task is knowing the team playbook, then watching film and learning from the other guys on the field. Practise and experience definitely help.”
Pushing the Limits
Drake attributed his team’s successful season to the unselfishness of its players.
“Football is like family,” he says. “Whatever differences you have, you put them aside because the guy next to you depends on you every day. There were a lot of guys here wanting to help get the job done together. You want the team to be successful, so you do whatever you have to for that to happen. Last season was a blessing.”
Also contributing to the Blue Bombers’ championship was the best run defence in the league. One of Drake’s many Twitter fans posted: “Nevis is a beast in the heart of the D line.”
“I didn’t want to think that it was my ninth year playing so it was OK to go ahead and coast,” he comments. “I wanted to keep pushing the limits! Whatever I’ve done in the past, I can improve on it, be relentless in my approach to the game, help my team be successful and give God glory.”
No Waste of Time
Drake grew up going to church in a small town in Louisiana, and faith is at the centre of his personal and professional life.
“As a teenager, I made the choice to go beyond just going to church and made it personal,” he says. “I faced temptations to turn away and go a different route, but my church home taught me well. Church alone doesn’t accomplish what you need to accomplish. It’s all about your life outside of the hours in church: doing what the Word says and acting out what you believe.”
When Drake’s away from his home church, he gains spiritual strength from chapel. Last September, he and Reese supported team chaplain Lorne Korol by attending his annual fundraiser, Pro Sports and Faith Night. The Nevises were regular volunteers at a downtown Winnipeg ministry to the homeless. On the Tuesday evening after the Grey Cup win, at the end of the Blue Bombers’ hometown celebration, Drake and Reese dropped into the shelter with trays of food from the party.
“Football is my platform to share the love of Christ,” he says. “We enjoyed our time there and being a part of a great city. It’s important to pay attention to the people around you, and also to the opportunities to learn and grow in God’s Word. Sometimes we don’t realize its importance and get distracted, but no time spent in the Word is a waste of time.”
Learning and Growing
Upon entering free agency, this past February, Drake signed with the Toronto Argonauts, and another chapter in his playing life began. As he has throughout his life, Drake looks upon this move as a challenge to himself to be better.
“I try to learn and grow every day,” Drake says. “What really makes a difference in life is proper discernment. You always have a bad voice and a good voice in your ear. It’s important to know that the bad voice will kill, steal and destroy, but the good voice leads you to the right way.”