People and Places

All for the Redblacks: The team behind the team

Damian Ford, above, who works in sales for the Redblacks, is just one of hundreds of people who work behind the scenes to support the team. Photo courtesy of Damian Ford.

The Ottawa Redblacks have undoubtedly had an incredible season. To go from a 2-16 record in their inaugural year to being Eastern Division champs is an aggressive turnaround.

With so much focus on the players it’s easy to forget just how many people the franchise employs. It takes a lot of moving parts to keep a professional sports team humming.

These three Ottawans have off-the-field Redblacks jobs, but it doesn’t make them any less enthusiastic about their work.

Name: Damian Ford
Age: 31
Job: Sales

Damian Ford’s childhood dream was to work in professional sports. Though he admits “it took a little while to get paid doing it.” As a new business specialist for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), he’s responsible for signing up new clients for Redblacks season tickets and growing the fan base.

Ford grew up on the CFL so he says working with the Redblacks is “pretty awesome.”

“I’ve been to a lot of games, but this one was special” he said of the Redblacks exciting last-minute Eastern Division Championship win. “The crowd had these perma-smiles after the game. There are no words to describe how cool that is.”

He’ll be watching the Grey Cup at a viewing party right in Lansdowne Stadium with his wife Heather.

Name: Stirling Bennett
Age: 22
Job: Beer guy

Stirling Bennett, left, with Redblacks fans, says he doesn't even consider his job to be be work. Photo courtesy of Stirling Bennett.
Stirling Bennett, left, with colleague Simon Simon Beeksma, right, and a fan, centre, says he likes his job so much that it never feels like work. Photo courtesy of Stirling Bennett.

Stirling Bennett loves his job. If you’ve been to a Redblacks game you’ve definitely seen him or someone like him selling tall cans in the stands. He’s got an interesting perspective on his role with the Redblacks: “I view my job as an opportunity to be part of the entertainment. I make chants, shout jokes, and copy the cheer squad dancing. All in the name of selling beer.”

Bennett doesn’t even view it as work.

“It’s by far my favorite job,” he says. “Yeah the tips are good but the atmosphere gives you such a high. I’ll keep this job as long as I’m in Ottawa.”

He’s got nothing but nice things to say about Redblacks fans, claiming they’re “by far the best in the league. They came like crazy last year when the team barely won a game.” Bennett said Sunday’s game was a “crazy experience,” and the fans were “wilder than usual.”

He’ll be watching the Grey Cup at a downtown bar but he’d much prefer to be at the game.

“I just wish the Grey Cup could be played here in Ottawa.”

Name: Trevor Anders
Age: 34
Job: Lead Security Supervisor

Trevor Anders handled security logistics for every home game. Photo courtesy of Trevor Anders.
Trevor Anders handled security logistics for every home game. Photo courtesy of Trevor Anders.

Trevor Anders coordinates the main guard force during Redblacks games. That means he’s tasked with risk assessments, positional planning and security logistics for every home game.

“Sunday’s game presented an interesting challenge for Lansdowne security. There was no knowledge a week ago whether or not the Redblacks would have a home playoff match, so we had to hire 30 guards at the last minute” he said of the Division Final.

He says early games like last Sunday’s are better because he doesn’t “have to contend with the heavy drinkers. While it was loud and crazy, the fans were great.”

Things don’t always run that smoothly. He says the worst thing fans do is try to jump on the field.

“Most fans are unaware of the penalty (up to $10,000) associated with a field breach. It usually does not bode well for them after we pass them off to the Ottawa police” he offered as a warning to would-be jumpers.

When it comes to the Grey Cup, while Anders doesn’t have cable he says he’ll be keeping up with the game on his smartphone.