Maurer a stand-up guy
Grey Cup's top Canadian ranks up there in the fatherhood as well
Font: * * * * Vicki Hall, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, December 02, 2005
EDMONTON - OK, so maybe Mike Maurer was a curious choice for the most outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup.
The Edmonton Eskimos fullback caught four passes for 41 yards and carried the ball once for two yards in the thrilling overtime win over the Montreal Alouettes. On the surface, Montreal receiver Ben Cahoon, who caught 10 passes, or Edmonton kicker Sean Fleming, who booted the winning field goal, might have seemed a more logical selection.
But maybe Maurer wasn't such a bad choice, after all. His teammates say the man with the mohawk and wolfchops is the definition of a stand-up guy, both on and off the field. For proof, just take a look at his personal life.
Maurer grew up in Regina and graduated from junior football to the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders. At age 20 he was a local hero with a $500 weekly paycheque, his own apartment and a big-screen TV. Life was good. Everything was under control. Until the night he ran into an old girlfriend that he hadn't seen in a few years.
"You know I had a little girl?" she said. "Well, she's yours."
The news rocked Maurer, his world drastically changed in a single moment.
"There's consequence for everything you do, and this was one of those times," he said. "I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it. I was like, 'OK, what's the next step?' "
The next step was a paternity test but Maurer arranged, in the meantime, to see the toddler from afar at a Regina playground. He watched in awe as the little girl twirled around on the monkey bars and hit the ground with a thud, then got up like nothing happened.
No fear, just like her daddy.
"She looks exactly like me," he said. "She's got the same eyes, the same dark hair and dark features. I knew she was mine."
The test came back positive and Maurer arranged to meet his daughter for real at her mom's apartment.
"It was pretty surreal," he said. "You see it in the movies and you don't think you'd ever go through that.
"I remember she was playing with some toys on the floor. And her mom said, 'Kyra, this is your dad. He didn't know before, but he knows now.' It didn't faze her. She was like, 'Oh yeah.' "
And so began Maurer's life as a father. He simply refused to run in a world where professional athletes are often painted as self-centred jerks who put themselves first, at all costs.
How could he turn away, when his own biological father took off when Maurer was a baby? How could he do that when the man he calls dad stepped in and guided him all the way?
"My biological father ditched on my mom when I was a baby," Maurer said. "I didn't want to be like my biological father. I wanted to be like my real father.
"I was fortunate enough that my mom married a great guy. My dad worked so hard for us, and he's responsible. There was no discussion my mind. If she was my daughter, I wanted to be there. I wanted to do it right."
After the Grey Cup celebrations, Maurer flew back to Regina on Wednesday where he lives with his wife Hayley and their two daughters, Kamryn, 4, and Ryan, 2. Kyra, now 12, visits about three days a week, and her dad can't help but brag about her.