Calgary Stampeders

Greg Vavra - Quarterback - 1984-88 - University of Calgary


Dan Barnes Edmonton Journal - 23-06-2008

In the Canadian Football League, homegrown quarterback stories always include a where-are-they-now component.


They are incredibly rare, after all, and the few who have earned a sniff just never last. It doesn't, however, doom these men to irrelevance off the field and Greg Vavra is abundant proof that a good, fulfilling life awaits after even the briefest of pro football careers.


He is 47, physically fit, intelligent, committed to his family and community. After a five-year stint in the CFL wrapped in 1988, he earned a law degree to accompany one in commerce and now heads a small, family-run oil and gas company in Calgary. He stays close to the game as offensive co-ordinator for his alma mater, the University of Calgary Dinosaurs, whose alumni and fans regard him as perhaps their best player ever. Since that isn't quite enough activity to fill every waking moment, Vavra was in Edmonton on the weekend, lured back to one of his three CFL home cities by another personal passion, coaching baseball. He's an assistant with the Calgary Longhorns, who fell short of the final in a midget AAA tournament Sunday.


Long ago Vavra reconciled the brevity of his career with his talents, leaving no room for bitterness.


"With my skill set I think I got as much out of it as I possibly could have," said the former Eskimo, Stampeder and Lion. "I was a journeyman-type player. I think if a break here or there could have gone my way, I would have played a lot longer than I did. But I had a great experience. I don't have any regrets."


He was a formidable, three-sport athlete as a teenager -- football, hockey and baseball -- and a fierce competitor throughout; a Vanier Cup and Hec Crighton Award winner who now derives his competitive fix from the sides of the diamond and the field.


"Coaching does it for me. You get released or you decide to finish your career and you always think you could play a few more years. By the time you hit about 35 you think, 'I did my thing, now it's time for me to give back,' and that's where I am right now."


College bio

The 1980s was an impressive decade for Dinos football. Phenomenon quarterback Greg Vavra was one of the most influential players from this period, leading the Dinos from 1979 to 1983 and putting the University of Calgary's football team in the national sports eye.

Vavra is the U of C's all-time leader in passing attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He holds the record for most yards passed in one game, at 627, and achieved the longest field goal at 52 yards.

During Vavra's five-year tenure, he participated in two of the most significant games in Dinos history. Dinos sports information director Jack Neumann recalls the Nov. 11 game of 1983 with pride.

"Remembrance Day in 1983 was probably one of the greatest college games I've had the honour to be a part of," said Neumann. "Vavra led the team with a take-no-prisoners attitude and such ferocity. It was just gut-wrenching when they beat [the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds]. That game put this program on the map."

The win catapulted the team to the Vanier Cup, where they beat defending national champion Queen's University on home turf.

"The Vanier Cup was probably the highlight of my career," said Vavra. "The only thing I can really remember is how much fun we had winning."

Neumann also raves about the team's performance in the Vanier Cup game.

"Vavra led an engineered drive that Queen's just couldn't defend against," said Neumann. "They just led through the whole game."

Vavra was named Canada West player of the year in both 1982 and 1983, U of C male athlete of the year and Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union all-Canadian quarterback in 1983. He was also awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy as MVP in Canadian college football. After his college achievements, he went on to play football in the Canadian Football League.



- statistics --



Greg Vavra     University of Calgary  
Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg
1984 Cgy 324 161 1,901 49.7 10 16 41
1985 Cgy 73 32 391 43.8 1 5 38
1986 BC 9 4 75 44.4 0 1 49
1987 BC 92 46 764 50.0 5 6 45
1988 Edm 26 10 105 38.5 1 3 19
Total 5 524 253 3,236 226 17 31 49


Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1984 Cgy 31 153 4.9 25 1
1985 Cgy 13 28 2.2 11 0
1986 BC 2 12 6.0 8 0
1987 BC 3 -8 -2.7 -11 0
1988 Edm 2 9 4.5 8 0
Total 5 51 194 3.8 25 1


Hec Crighton