Dylan Chapdelaine honoured with Wally Buono Award
Dylan Chapdelaine had known he was the winner of the 2014 Wally Buono Award since it was announced two weeks ago.
On Saturday afternoon, however, the former Vancouver Island Raiders star linebacker got to hold the trophy in his hands for the first time as he was named the top Canadian Junior Football League player of the 2014 season.
"I feel like a celebrity," Chapdelaine laughed after the award ceremony.
"Everyone's been coming up to me and congratulating me. I've never felt like this before. It's a different feeling but it's been fun."
With the award came another opportunity.
Chapdelaine, a four-time CJFL All-Canadian linebacker, has accepted a position on the Thunderbirds football team at the University of British Columbia for the 2015 season to continue his athletic career, one that started at John Barsby Community School in Nanaimo.
"They started scouting me after my time with the Raiders and only just recently found out about the award, so that probably boosted their interest," Chapdelaine said of his college recruiting process. "I'm from Nanaimo, from the Island so I really wanted to stay close to home and UBC offers that. It's a good school, too, so why wouldn't I go there?" Chapdelaine also expressed excitement of playing for new UBC head coach Blake Nill, who took the vacant job after spending years building a dominant
Calgary Dinos program in Alberta.
"He's definitely a huge part of it," Chapdelaine said of his decision to play for UBC.
"I went to the spring camp and he's pretty much changed everything from last year. Things are only going to get better from here, so it's going to be good there."
Winning the Wally Buono Award was something Chapdelaine nearly accomplished last season, as he finished in a firstplace tie with Regina Thunder quarterback Asher Hastings.
The Thunder won the national championship in 2013, and Chapdelaine said he was told that was the tiebreaker.
This year, however, it was a unanimous decision.
"This really tops the cake," Chapdelaine said of his decorated championship career in Nanaimo. "It's a really prestigious award to be named the top junior player in Canada. I'm really honoured."
The award was presented Saturday at the Nanaimo Museum, where the trophy has a permanent home.
Chapdelaine is the fourth Raider to win it, following alumni Jordan Yantz, Michael Schaper and Andrew Harris.
Buono, the general manager of the B.C. Lions who the award is named after, was in attendance to present Chapdelaine with the trophy.
Buono said the award was less about Chapdelaine's pure football talent than what he meant to the Raiders organization.
"He's a good football player at the level he is at," Buono said.
"But this award is more than about that. This award is about how the best player makes people around him better and makes the environment better.
"That has tremendous value for me."