From ball to bobsleigh: Redblacks player hits the track in CFL off-season

After a summer catching passes, 25-year-old wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling won't rest this summer, instead following in the footsteps of other former football players by training in bobsleigh.

Keaton Bruggeling, a 25-year-old WR, is training for the 2-man bobsleigh competition

Two men in helmets and Team Canada gear with a bobsleigh.
Keaton Bruggeling, left, and his teammate Patrick Norton get ready for a run for Team Canada in Lake Placid, N.Y., as part of the two-man bobsleigh competition. (Colby Saint Jean)

A Canadian Football League player is trading in his football cleats, at least for the off-season, and jumping in a bobsled as a member of Canada's national team.

Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling, 25, won't rest this winter as he trains and competes in the two-man bobsleigh competition, most recently in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he had his first race of the season on Thursday.

"It was very exciting. We had a pretty good day. It was obviously nerve-racking and scary," Bruggeling told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "I really enjoyed it and I think it went very well."

Bruggeling calls it a bit of a fluke as to how he got into the winter sport, but credits his football workouts for getting noticed by other bobsledders.

Before his first CFL season some Olympic bobsledders, including his current teammate Patrick Norton, saw him training.

"I was just pushing gym sleds with weight on them," he said. "They said I'd be pretty good at [bobsleigh]. From then on, I just kind of got pulled into the sleigh."

Two men playing Canadian football.
Keaton Bruggeling, right, on the field in a game between the Ottawa Redblacks and Toronto Argonauts last month. (Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography)

History of CFLers jumping in the sled

There's a bit of a history of CFL players who have jumped from the field to the frozen track.

Olympian and former running back Jesse Lumsden retired from the CFL to join Team Canada in 2011.

Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, who last played for the Montreal Alouettes, was another who took on the fast-paced winter sport a few years ago, said Bruggeling.

While he said football takes priority, Bruggeling is excited to compete in another sport as he takes in the "energy" of the bobsled team.

LISTEN | From football to bobsleigh, Redblacks athlete takes a leap

Featured VideoOttawa Redblacks wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling has joined the Team Canada Bobsleigh crew during the winter season.

"I really enjoyed that, and I thought that it would be another great little adventure for me in the off season," he said.

In March, Bruggeling spent a couple of days training for the first time for the two-man bobsleigh competition in Lake Placid before the coach asked if he wanted to hop in for an official race with Norton for the North American Cup.

They won gold.

"I like to think that there was no time to think so the technique wasn't really there but we run fast, so it worked out," he said.

With files from Wafa El-Rayes