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Bombers pick has ties to Dauphin

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When the Canadian Football League finally allows teams to hold training camp, a recent draftee of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with connections to Dauphin will be trying his luck at making the team.
Nick Dheilly, a defensive lineman with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, was selected in the fifth round, 46th overall by the Bombers.
Dheilly’s grandmother Irene Bourdin is originally from Dauphin and she married Paul Dheilly of Laurier, where they lived until moving to Brandon in 1966.
Irene’s two brothers Lionel and Ron and her stepmother Darlene Bourdin, as well as nieces Lana Parker and Keri Boulbria and their families live in Dauphin. Ron, he pointed out, is a big Blue Bombers fan.
Dheilly was born in Regina, but because his family is from Manitoba, he grew up a Bomber fan. So being drafted by the defending Grey Cup champions is a dream come true.
“I’ve been going to Labour Day games wearing Bomber jerseys all the time. So it’s kind of surreal being drafted by the team you grew up admiring. Especially being a Regina kid. So it’s been cool,” he said.
Dheilly began playing football at the age of seven and played the sport in high school with Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School, winning four provincial championships in a row, going undefeated in all four years.
“We actually had a really good group of talent there,” he said.
Dheilly then played two seasons with the University of Regina, which was located right beside his high school.
He was named the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2016 and was named an all-star a year later.
Dheilly moved on to play for the Okanagan Sun of the British Columbia Football Conference in 2018 where he was once again named an all-star.
He then decided to transfer to the University of Saskatchewan, where he thought the coaching staff was top notch.
“And I knew that team would get me to the next level, meaning the CFL. So that’s how I ended up at the University of Saskatchewan and then getting drafted this year by the Bombers,” he explained.
Football is a sport that Dheilly has always loved to play, but it was not until last year that he began thinking he might have a chance to play the game professionally.
“Realizing when you’re 22, going against some really good guys and being a year out from your draft year is when you start realizing you can actually do something with it,” he said.
Dheilly will get a chance to play with Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson, who he looked up to when Jefferson played with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders.
“He’s a defensive end and he’s kind of tall like me,” said the six-foot, five-inch, 230-pound Dheilly.
“I think it’s all really, really surreal that I’m going to go meet my idol and play on the team I’ve wanted to play on since I was seven years old.”
Like every player in the CFL, Dheilly is frustrated the COVID-19 pandemic has things on hold for now with the threat of the season being cancelled outright looming. But he recognizes player safety is paramount.
“At the end of the day, I’m just staying ready, working out ever day and whenever camp starts, I’ll be ready to go,” he said, adding the call he received from the Blue Bombers when he was drafted was one of the most humbling calls he has ever gotten.
“I almost started crying. It was crazy,” he said.
Dheilly is looking forward to the chance to prove himself at camp, wanting to prove to the Bombers their faith in drafting him was not unwarranted.
“Just go out there and prove that I am the player I am and the player they drafted is going to be unreal and hopefully, make an impact on the team right away,” he said.
Dheilly makes it to Dauphin every second year, while also spending time in Clear Lake, as well.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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