He loves the CFL and his Toronto Argonauts, and he's young | Sports | CBC Sports

CFLHe loves the CFL and his Toronto Argonauts, and he's young

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 03:43 PM

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Toronto Argos fan Luke Hempel celebrates the team's win in Montreal with quarterback Ricky Ray, left, and receiver Maurice Mann. (Photo courtesy Susanne Hempel) Toronto Argos fan Luke Hempel celebrates the team's win in Montreal with quarterback Ricky Ray, left, and receiver Maurice Mann. (Photo courtesy Susanne Hempel)

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Luke Hempel is charming, smart, knowledgeable, opinionated and passionate about the CFL and his beloved Toronto Argonauts. Did I mention the Deer Park public school student is only 13?

I got my prediction right from the beginning of the season argos vs. Calgary there is still time left but they are gonna win good luck argos

#jamelrichardson what an idiot on tsn quote "we are gonna win GUARANTEED right in your face can't stand people that are too cocky #GOHOME

@TorontoArgos @ChadOwens2 #argoss great job see you in t.o love it argosss grey cup here we come

These three tweets were posted by @1argosfan after his beloved Toronto Argonauts upset the Montreal Alouettes 27-20 in the East final at Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Oh yeah, and he's only 13.

Luke Hempel is charming, smart, knowledgeable, opinionated and passionate about the CFL. Did I mention the Deer Park public school grade eight student is only 13?

I met the youngster on the train ride home from Montreal on Monday and immediately I was taken in. Jim Barker has known the young man for a few years now, and to hear the Argonauts general manager talk about Hempel you would think he was raving about some hot new recruit he had just discovered.

"The first time I met him was at the CFL combine a few years ago," Barker said. "He started to rattle off things like 'what did you think about that 4.7 so-and-so ran,' and 'what are you going to do about this guy's contract,' and 'I think this guy is available.'

"I'm thinking, 'what, this guy is just 10.' I immediately took a liking to him. He's a kid who truly follows this team and this league. He's a kid in which this is very important to him. He spends a lot of time at this. I know this because of the kinds of things he knows and the kind of facts he comes up with. It has impressed me."

Barker was impressed so much that the Argonauts GM gave this young man his e-mail address.

"He e-mails me and I'll occasionally ask him for his opinion," Barker said.

Hempel won a contest to sit in the Argos draft room in 2011 and announce the team's picks. Afterwards, the team allowed him to hold his own mock press conference.



"He was fun in that room with us," Barker recalled. "We were talking trades on the telephone with other teams and he said things like 'what if you trade this guy for that guy?' He was just a pleasure to have in there.

"He's a unique kid. Hopefully, one day we'll see him as a manager. It's important we have young people interested in being a manager one day. This is important to him. He finds a way stay interested and up to date with our team. He's everywhere."

For example, Hempel will drag his mother Susanne on the subway, transfer onto a bus to make the 90-minute trips to practice in Mississauga in the summer. 

When Toronto beat the Edmonton Eskimos in the East semifinal, Argonauts kicker Swayze Waters saw Hempel after the game and told him that he better be in Montreal.

He already had two Via train passes from his contest win. All he needed was tickets. The next thing he knows Argos cornerback Evan McCollough supplied him with two ducats for the East final.

The love affair with his team only got stronger. This all started a few years ago when he saw his first Argos game live against the Calgary Stampeders, the team Toronto will meet in the 100th Grey Cup on Sunday.

"When I was young, nine years old, my Mom started taking me to the games," Hempel said. "I just loved it. So I started going to the practices. I started going to the E-camps. Then I got to know Jim and I've had a great time.

E-camps?

"Evaluation camps," the young man said. "The E-camps were held near my home at Varsity Stadium."

How does this kid find out all this stuff?

"My Mom has taught me to do my research on the Internet," he said.

Personally, I've always preferred the CFL over the NFL, but few in my circle of friends do. I can only imagine what it's like to be a 13-year-old sports nut these days. Isn't it uncool to like the CFL?

"I love the Argos," Hempel said. "I tweet about the Argos. Sometimes my friends ask me why I love the Argos so much and why am I always tweeting about them. 'Why not the NFL?' This is my country. I'm from Canada.

"I believe in the CFL. The NFL puts more money into it. That's what America is all about. But I like the CFL. It should be treated better in this country. I encourage people to watch the CFL. I think the CFL is on par with the NFL.

"I know some kids from my school, who don't like the CFL, yet they're going to the [Grey Cup] game on Sunday. They're going to be in for a surprise on how exciting it is. It's not like this 'oh there's two minutes left, run out the clock,' like in the NFL. They're going to see two touchdowns in the final minute."

Finally, does our whiz kid have a prediction? Argos, of course.

"But they have to play four quarters," he said. "They didn't play well in the first quarter [against Montreal last Sunday], but they made up for it with some big plays. They need to play four quarters in the Grey Cup. It's been a problem at times this season."

Did I mention this young man is only 13?

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