Alumni spotlight: A multi-sport success story from a Tiger-Cat and Olympian
Jesse Lumsden: Not your average Marauder and Olympian
Many Olympic athletes train for years to get their form ready for the big event. The typical athlete would train for the sport they’re competing all their life before they start competing on the big stage. However, not all athletes go through their whole career practicing that one sport. Some are talented in other sports as well and go on to prove that on a global level.
An example of such an athlete is Jesse Lumsden, a McMaster alum who pursued a career in both football and bobsledding.
At Mac, Lumsden was a part of the football varsity team. Through his varsity career with the Marauders, the running back won a Hec Crington Trophy in 2004, which is the award for the most outstanding football player in Canadian U sports. Shortly after this massive success with the team, he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 2005.
After one year in Seattle, Lumsden made a return to Canada. This time, he joined the Canadian Football League giants Hamilton Tigercats and played in the CFL until the end of his football career in 2011. A particularly notable award that Lumsden has won in his football career was the CFL East All Star achievement, which he received in 2007.
Lumsden's first experience with bobsleighs was in the spring of 2009, when he was recruited to push-test for bobsleigh. Just a couple months after he was recruited, Lumsden made his debut on the big scene, winning a Europa Cup with his partner Pierre Lueders. Shortly after, in 2010 Lumsden made the Vancouver Olympics, where he and Leuders came fifth in both two- and four-man bobsleigh categories.
When asked about how much McMaster has helped him start his career off, Lumsden credited the university for the motivation and support that the football team has provided him with.
“Being a part of the McMaster varsity football team certainly had a massive effect on my career and I am grateful for it. The team at the time was really good, the coaches were very professional and overall, it was a fantastic feeling to be a part of such a squad,” said Lumsden.
Although Lumsden had nothing but complements for the varsity team, he said that it wasn’t easy breaking into the team due to the big competition among the squad.
“At that time, the Marauders had really good players all round. As a running back, it was challenging being the best in that position because they had amazing players in place such as Kojo Aidoo. Kojo was not only a great player but [also] a great person and so were the coaches that got me into the squad,” said Lumsden.
On the subject of transitioning from football to bobsleighing, Lumsden told the story of how he went from being a running back at the varsity team to being at the Olympics for a completely different sport just a few years later.
“While being a football player at McMaster, we consistently received recruiting letters from the Olympic team with regards to bobsleighing. I always thought that it would be pretty interesting to sign up for something like this, so I gave it a go after some time. I knew that at the time the Vancouver Olympics were coming up, so I tried my best to make it in time. I was really proud of myself when I heard that I made it and I think that my growth was genuinely accelerated a couple of months before the big event,” said Lumsden.
When asked about the recent controversy surrounding Ontario University Athletics being labeled as an amateur league, Lumsden outlined that he was not happy about it.
“It’s a complete joke. You know, we had so many Olympians over the past decade going through the OUA and it doesn't make any sense to have this label. If you told me years ago when I was at the peak of my career that I was amateur, I’d just laugh at you,” said Lumsden.
Although many may expect athletes to stick to their initial sport throughout their career, Lumsden has proven to be an exceptional professional on all fronts and has defied those expectations. Not only has he won a best football player of the year award in U-sports, but he has also participated in the winter Olympics in a completely different sport. It is stories like this one that remind us of the abundance of talent found within the Mac community.