"It’s a great feeling to have something come full circle," says Toronto Argonauts’ nose tackle Noah Cantor, reflecting on his team’s Grey Cup victory in Ottawa.
Ottawa is the city where he grew up; the city where he threw his first football; the city where he watched his first CFL game with his dad. And now, it’s the city where he’s won another Grey Cup - the fourth of his 10-year career.
"It was nice to have it all come together, to be home again, and to see all my family and friends in the stands." Cantor pauses a moment before adding, "No, not nice amazing."
But what may have been even sweeter than winning the Cup, says his father Danny, was Noah being named to the CFL’s all-star football team something Noah doesn’t mention much.
"He’s the last one to tell anyone about his accomplishments," says Stuart Ages, a friend of Cantor since kindergarten. "He’s always been extremely modest."
Cantor and Ages attended B’nai Brith Camp together for nine years, as well as Hillel Academy, Whitehaven Public School, and D. Roy Kennedy Public School.
"But it was at Ashbury [College] where I watched him flourish, and where he really developed his athletic abilities," says Ages. "Still, he never got a big head about any of his achievements" - even when he was named ‘Best Athlete in a Five Year Program,’ Ashbury’s most prestigious sports title.
Jon Braun, athletics and league manager SJCC, recalls how Cantor used to play pick-up basketball in the gym, and was a natural star. "When he was 17 or 18 he played a game on the men’s team. He got 47 points in the game that was the last time he came by."
"What a gentleman he was about the win, though," Braun adds.
Cantor’s mother, Bev, also can’t say enough nice things about her son. "He was always such a teddy bear - so cuddly and quiet and gentle with a heart like gold. So, when he said he wanted to play football, I was surprised ... he always seemed more into basketball."
Still, she says she always backed what he strived for 100 per cent. She went to all his games with a movie camera and crates of oranges, and says she "generally just acted like the adoring, crazy mother" she is.
She was especially proud when he started playing for St. Mary’s College in Halifax, turning down a football scholarship from Jamestown College in North Dakota so he could stay in Canada.
And even prouder when he started playing pro-football for the B.C. Lions, then the Argos.
His father, Danny, says he’s especially happy about his son teaching basketball to underprivileged kids in Vancouver. Cantor’s known for his volunteer work, recently attending the Ottawa Celebrity Sports Dinner in support of the SJCC and Football Canada.
He’s also lauded as one of the best defencemen in the league: "He’s reliable and he seldom makes a mistake," Adam Rita, the Argo’s vice-president, tells reporters.
Still, this isn’t what makes a football player great, stresses Cantor’s dad. "A football player is defined by the number of championships he wins."
And a man is defined by something different, his father adds - his integrity. Judging by these criteria, Noah Cantor may be a good football player, but he’s at least an equally good person.
Following the game, while the rest of his team went out to the clubs to celebrate, Cantor could be found at his parent’s home, enjoying the victory with his family.
Noah, Donna and their daughters Mya and Rachel live in Vancouver. In the off-season, he operates four Vera’s Burger Shack restaurants.
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