Hamilton Tiger Cats

Dave Stala - Receiver - 2009-13 - St. Mary's


Stala Ponders Life After Football - Drew Edwards - Hamilton Spectator - 27-07-2011

In the moments after the Hamilton Ticats win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 16 — a game that was played in scorching heat — Dave Stala zipped into the Hamilton locker-room and jumped into the cold tub, uniform and all. He returned to the field moments later for a fan autograph session and found himself a chair to sit on: While the rest of his sweaty teammates stood on sore legs, Stala sat, sopping wet but infinitely cooler.

This is the subtle genius of Dave Stala — nobody’s idea of the biggest, fastest or smartest guy — but a player who just seems to know the right thing to do, the right thing to say and who possesses an innate ability to find a little crease in the defence. He has spent nine-plus seasons making catches with those crazy, sticky hands.


“People say I’m the old guy but that’s a compliment,” Stala says. “Not too many guys get to hang around for this long having fun with this game.”

Born in Poland but raised in Hamilton, Stala will turn 32 before the end of this Canadian Football League season and, while he plans on playing a few more years, he’s already begun to contemplate life after football. This winter, he bought a house on the Mountain with his girlfriend, Kim, and plans to make Hamilton his home after his playing days are done.


“Coming back here was the best thing I could have done and I don’t want to leave — I’d like to finish my career here and make the most of it,” said Stala, who is under contract through 2012. “People look at different ways, some guys leave for money. I’m happy here and they’re taking care of me so I think it’s a good situation for me.”

He has started Dave Stala Skills Development football camp and runs the three-day sessions roughly three times a year. Aimed at kids aged 10 to 18, the $120 camp focuses on footwork and fundamentals as well as nutrition, strength training and the importance of education. A number of his teammates, including quarterback Kevin Glenn, have been guest instructors.

“He’s really comfortable around kids, especially for a guy that doesn’t have any,” said Glenn, who has a young son, Kaleb. “He’s very trustworthy. He’s one of the guys you would leave your kid with because you know he’s going to treat the kid like it’s his.”
Stala said he has found a level of satisfaction working with young athletes.

“To work with kids is great because you can really see them improve in a short period of time,” Stala said. “As long as kids are having fun doing what they’re doing, they’ll keep doing it.”

Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille says the ability to keep things loose is a subtle leadership skill that is part of what makes Stala popular with teammates.


“The thing I like about him is that he does lighten things up when things get heavy,” Bellefeuille said. “He’s a consummate pro. He’s like any other player, he has some games that are better than others, but he’s very coachable. He wants to do things right and he puts in the time.”
In addition to the camps, Stala also runs a pair of philanthropic programs through the Ticats. His Catches For Kids program raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters in partnership with Supreme Basics Office Products based on yardage and touchdowns — they have raised more than $1,000 so far this season — and his Stala’s Stars program brings 40 kids from local community centres to each home game.

“When I was younger, we had different players come around — Mike Morreale, Trevor Shaw, Danny Mac — if I can return that favour, I’m more than happy to,” Stala said. “Growing up five blocks from here, I know the importance of community work.”

Stala hasn’t set a retirement date and says he will play as long as his body and skill set allow him to compete at a high level. But, like all veterans, he understands the nature and importance of the clock.

“There’s going to be a time when it comes to an end and you have to start thinking about what you’re going to do after football,” Stala said. “I’d just like it to be something that helps other people.”


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Dave Stala     St. Mary's
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
2003 Mtl 10 179 17.9 36 0
2004 Mtl 12 171 14.3 25 0
2005 Mtl 83 1,037 12.5 43 5
2006 Mtl 38 445 11.7 65 2
2007 Mtl 2 20 10.0 12 0
2008 Mtl 0 0 0.0 0 0
2009 Ham 67 751 11.2 69 2
2010 Ham 86 1,023 11.9 41 6
2011 Ham 59 771 13.1 58 8
2012 Ham 42 655 15.6 87 4
2013 Ham 10 144 14.4 25 0
2014 Mtl 10 126 12.6 27 0
2015 Tor 11 110 10.0 15 2
Total 12 430 5,432 12.6 87 29


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