Favourite local athlete

Daniel Crump/CFL (Supplied)

1. Brady Oliveira (Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

2. Bobby Schink (wrestler)

3. Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets)

You might think Winnipeggers would be tired of hearing about Blue Bombers who went to Oak Park High School, but you would be wrong. This year, Uniter readers selected running back Brady Oliveira as their favourite local athlete for 2023.

While only in his second season as a starter, taking over for fellow Oak Park alum (and 2018 winner) Andrew Harris, Oliveira managed to have a truly dominant season, racking up more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

He was also part of another milestone. Oliveira and Nic Demski, yet another Oak Park alum, became the first two Canadians on the same team to reach 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

The fact that they both played for the same high school in the same city as their team makes this an achievement that will likely never be repeated, unless these two do it again in the future.

“This means a lot to me. I’m a proud Canadian, a proud Manitoban,” Oliveira said in an emailed statement to The Uniter. “So to be recognized like this by my hometown, by my community – as a Winnipegger, it means the world to me.”

While the Blue Bombers were unable to bring home a third Grey Cup in four years, Oliveira managed to win some hardware for himself. At the CFL Awards this year, he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian, won the league’s rushing-yards title and tied for the league’s touchdown title.

With a season like that, it should come as no surprise that there has been interest south of the border. Oliveira is currently working on setting up workouts with NFL teams.

But even if he manages to move beyond our borders and gets a taste of NFL glory, he will always remain a Winnipegger at heart.

“I’m living out a childhood dream playing for my hometown with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers,” he says.

It’s not hard to see why he’s your favourite.

Published in Volume 78, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2023)

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