By: Santino Filoso
Today we sit down with Regina native, Matt Kellet, the former Ottawa Renegade kicker/punter. Though he was only in Ottawa for a single season, Kellet played in the CFL from 1999-2005 on four different teams (Edmonton, BC, Montreal and Ottawa), playing in the Grey Cup in his hometown with Montreal in 2003.
RR: Growing up did you always know you wanted to be a kicker?
MK: I didn’t actually start playing football until half way through grade 11. My rugby/wrestling coach was also my home room teacher and after watching a football game I noticed all the kicks were very short, so I asked if they were doing that purposely. He had mentioned that , no, they just didn’t have a guy who could do it. Since he was also the head football coach at the time, he suggested I should come out and give it try. I wasn’t even thinking of football as a sporting option before then.
How did you adjust to kicking in the CFL’s wild weather and what were the most difficult conditions for you to kick in?
I grew up in Regina (or at least spent my high school years there having moved all over the country prior to that) so wild weather was just normal for me. Taylor Field, now called Mosaic Stadium, was relatively easy because 90% of the time the winds would come from the south of Regina which meant you only had 1/2 the game to worry about it. One of the hardest places to kick was in the old Ivor Wynn stadium because both endzones were open, which played games with your ball during FG attempts. The cold was maybe more of a factor than the wind, because you couldn’t get great compression on the ball, thus the ball didn’t fly as far.
Did you have to change the technique used when attempting a long field goal as opposed to a shorter one?
Early in my career, I really struggled learning to “trust my swing” and thus I struggled with short FG’s, because of the angles that the CFL field creates. As you mature as a kicker you learn to trust your ball flight and it doesn’t matter where you are on the field, all kicks are straight kicks.
Is there any difference between placekicking and kickoffs?
Nope, on kickoffs you are coached to kick to a spot, outside the numbers and as deep as possible. Place kicking/FG’s you are kicking to a spot also but with a Pass or Fail grade.
Throughout your CFL career you played in every stadium, was there one that posed more problems to you as a kicker than others?
Hahaha to be completely honest the most problematic stadium for me was BC Place. I struggled with “failure” early in my career and mentally could not shake the “what if’s” even though it was my home stadium. For 2 years I felt more comfortable on the road in visiting stadiums. Once I left BC and moved to the Alouettes the most problematic stadium was Ottawa, because of Gerald Vaughn, he was a beast off the corner and affected many kicks.
Is there one thing about being a kicker that most people probably don’t realize?
That most, though not all, are great athletes. They are just put into positions where they don’t look like athletes, ie, making open field tackles. When you look at open field tackles in general, lots of players miss them, but when I kicker does , people “poke fun” the attempt.
Were you a very superstitious guy?
Not at all, I was coached very early to not stress about things you can’t control (weather, for example). What it is , is what it is.
Looking back on your time in Ottawa, what stays with you the most?
My first game against Montreal, that team that traded me, on Canada Day. I went 4 for 4 with the game tying and game winning FG in overtime. The coaches were under such an amazing amount stress from the ownership, but they stayed true to themselves and their team. Coach Paopao and his staff should be very proud of how they conducted themselves and coached our team that year.
Over the course of your career you made 11 tackles, what’s it feel like to be the last man back when a returner with a head full of steam comes barrelling at you?
I think my time playing rugby paid off. I loved to run down field in college and tackle and hit people, but again was coached early in my CFL career to play my position and be the last guy back.
Now that you’re retired, what are you doing for work?
I’ve recently opened two franchised fitness studios, Orangetheory Fitness, here in Calgary with my business partner Mike McDonald. Since leaving football I have been a personal trainer and wellness director in fitness facilities in Calgary.
What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your CFL career?
Bouncing back after two nightmare seasons in BC, having people write me off (rightfully so), being cut and invited to tryout in Montreal, and finally being able to rebound into the kicker/ player I knew I could be, all thanks to Don Matthews!
Do you still keep in touch with a lot of your old teammates?
Through social media I have fitness connections with a few, and some of my old teammates are my best friends from college so of course I still do with them.
Have you ever thought about getting into coaching?
I love coaching. I coach personal trainers and have coached my boys on their hockey and soccer teams, and have also helped out kickers at the University of Saskatchewan. I think when my boys are older and possibly playing football will I get involved in football again.
Have you had a chance to come back to Ottawa and take in a Redblacks game yet?
Not yet but I think that would be an amazing time, to see the new stadium and hang out with some of the best fans around. I say that because they have continued to support every attempt at a team in Ottawa. The year I spent in Ottawa I think it rained 8 out of 9 games, and I mean it down poured, but there was always a consistently large group of fans out to cheer the team on. I really hope that the Redblacks are here to stay so that the fan base can TRULY get behind them and watch the team grow and develop. I think that’s all a true fan really wants and what Ottawa deserves.
Thank you very much for your time Matt and best of luck in your future endeavours. Be sure to let us know whenever you make a trip to Ottawa so we can welcome you back in style!