Road to the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup: Gaels football a family affair for Pendergasts

Road to the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup:  Gaels football a family affair for Pendergasts

Image: Postmedia Network

By Charlie Pinkerton, CIS Football Correspondent


The Pendergast family is quite familiar with Queen's University football. 

For second generation Gaels Matt and Jeremy Pendergast, playing for their father's alma mater isn't about following in his footsteps. 

"My dad was kind of quiet with us about sports," said second-year Jeremy Pendergast. "He never really talked about it. As we got older we kind of had to figure stuff out about our dad by ourselves." 

Tim Pendergast, Matt and Jeremy's father, played quarterback for the Gaels between 1988 and 1992. 

The older Pendergast cemented his name in Queen's and CIS history in his final season by leading the Gaels to their third Vanier Cup, a 31-0 beat-down over the Saint Mary's Huskies – the only shutout in the game's history. Tim made his mark in that game with a 78-yard touchdown pass. 

For the younger Pendergasts, their father's laid-back demeanor means they have never felt the pressure of living up to their father's accomplishments. 


"It's more about playing Queen's football for the experience, it's not about being better than anybody," said Jeremy. 


"I just want to create my own success so I can have my own memories, because I know he really treasures those to this day, and I know he will for years to come," said fourth-year Matt Pendergast. 

For Tim, the national championship isn't what he deems most important from his time with Gaels football and isn't what he hopes his sons leave Queen's with. 

"My hope for them is that they learn the value of commitment and sacrifice and teamwork," said Tim. "Being part of a Vanier Cup-winning team was a tremendous experience, but what was a greater experience was being part of a large group of young adults that were committed to try to pursue a lofty goal." 

Both Matt and Jeremy have played football from a young age, but sports were a family affair long before they were able to strap on a pair of shoulder pads. 

"One of my first memories is playing t-ball and (my father) was my coach," said Matt. "He coached me in basketball, soccer, hockey – he was always there and supportive when I was growing up in any sport that I played." 

Once they were old enough to play in the local community football league, the sport – and Queen's football specifically – became a big part of their lives.

"We didn't miss many Queen's games growing up unless we had a basketball tournament or something else going on," said Jeremy. "Saturdays were always for Queen's football." 

The brothers both played quarterback until the senior high school level, where both switched from their father's position. Nowadays, Jeremy plays receiver, catching passes rather than throwing them, and Matt lines up on the opposite side of the ball at defensive back for the Gaels. 

Matt and Jeremy have played in every game for the struggling Gaels this season, who are clinging to the final playoff spot in the OUA with a 2-3 record. The two wins have come against their last two opponents, the Toronto Varsity Blues (1-5) who they beat 20-5 and a 54-20 victory over the Waterloo Warriors (0-6) 

The Pendergast brothers hope to make it three in a row this week against the No.8 nationally-ranked McMaster Marauders (4-1), Friday night in Hamilton. Queen's  will host the Windsor Lancers (2-3) in their homecoming football game next weekend before wrapping up the regular season against Ottawa (4-1) on Oct. 22. 

One person who won't miss either contest is Tim who attends each of the Gaels' home games at Richardson Stadium, where he watches all three of his sons in action. Tommy, the youngest Pendergast who is in Grade 11, is a ball boy for Queen's, but his brothers wouldn't be surprised if he kept with the family tradition and found his way from the sideline and onto the field in a few years. 

"He's probably more athletic than Jeremy and I," said Matt. "If I had to bet, it would be that he's leaning on playing university sports (too)."


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