Carlton Crusaders footballer Taz Smith-Windsor had a successful season on the griddle, and now he’s capping it with an incredible opportunity.
The 11th grader has been nominated for Canadafootballchat.com’s Prospects Game, which features the brightest stars from high schools from across the country on Friday, May 27 and airs on TSN.
“I was pretty shocked,” said Smith-Windsor when he was picked for the game. “I was definitely nervous waiting to see if I would get an email or not, but I was so excited to find out I’d made the final list.”
In addition to spending time with the Crusaders, Smith-Windsor also played in Saskatoon with North Sask Academy and in Moose Jaw with the Sask. Select program in winter. He believes his time in Saskatoon gave him the best chance of cracking the roster as he played out of position with Carlton.
“I was happy with my season in high school, but I think the football I played as a defender in Saskatoon helped, too,” he explained. “My high school gave me the opportunity to be really successful and that helped me a lot to get selected for the Prospects Game.”
This season with the Crusaders, Smith-Windsor has spent time on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He played with Carlton running back and linebacker. While he may not have played his main position that fall, he was still able to learn a lot more about the game at a high school level. To make his season even cooler, Taz was able to play alongside his little brother, Sullivan, who was in the bag and running the quarterback.
“It was a great time. I don’t think I’ve had a more fun high school season,” Taz said. “I had to play on the same side of the ball as Sullivan and we made a lot of good games together, he threw me a few touchdown passes which was really special. He’s a great leader in our team and I’ve had the privilege of spending this season with him and I’m looking forward to the next.”
Making it into the national spotlight is one thing. Doing it after a two-year pandemic that has made it harder to showcase your skills is another. Smith-Windsor proved his skills in his freshman high school football season as well as his time at Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. He explained how he was able to stay true to the sport he loves and how he emerged from the pandemic as a highly acclaimed defensive player.
“My high school head coach, Lindsay Strachan, has done a great job of keeping us active in sports even as she adhered to government guidelines and policies surrounding COVID-19,” he explained. “He conducted drills while we all wore masks and worked in small groups. I worked with him and went to all the camps that were still running and then did everything to improve. Hopefully it pays off.”
While scouts will fill the stands watching the game in Ottawa on the 27th, Smith-Windsor says he will focus on playing his own game and not letting the pressure of the bright lights get him down. It will be his first game in the national spotlight and he hopes to make a good impression on those in attendance.
“Definitely there’s some pressure with the game but I think if I’m just playing my own game and sticking with defense that we’re running and executing that I should be fine. I am sure that my coaches and teammates will enable me to be successful and do my job.”