Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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Richter the "King Kong" of defensive lineman

By Ryan Hickman
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette

THE BULL RUSH. Western Mustang Graig Richter attempts to imitate a bull in his bid to become one of the few chosen to run in Pamplona.

The popular knock on modern athletes today is that they are spoiled, self-centred and egotistical. Western's football captain Graig Richter cannot be described by any of these adjectives.

Richter is the epitome of the old school in a new game. He's a low-down dirty grinder who thrives on the physical nature of his defensive end position. Richter is a '67 Dodge Charger rolling down the street with the engine snarling and spraying out man juice – scrapin', mixin' it up and loving every minute of it.

"I don't want to take any plays off. You don't get to do that in life. You get to fight and battle. Football is something I enjoy and I get to challenge myself physically. It's like a war out there, with the mental and physical battles," Richter said.

As a defensive lineman, Richter has been knocked for not being the biggest guy or the strongest lineman in the league, but that V8, big block engine underneath his number 44 jersey hits on all cylinders for 60 minutes each game. The Mustang captain gets his unrelenting motivation from one source.

"I draw it from my teammates," Richter said, starting to get fired up. "That's the only reason I'm here. I don't play for the coaches or anything else but the guys next to me. I get excited if [John] Hammoud makes a big play or [John] Csborko gets a sack."

The feistiness that keeps Richter sharp comes through the magic of genetics. His father, Reg, played nose tackle here at Western in the late '60s and early '70s. Undersized bodies and oversized gonads run in the Richter family.

"He was a little snot-nosed bastard back then," Graig said of his dad. "That's where I get my aggression from."

Richter originally planned on going to McMaster University during high school, but wasn't accepted. His father was most excited when the acceptance letter came from Western.

"One day I came and my dad was sitting on the porch with this huge smile on his face. He handed me a letter and said 'Read this' and it said I was accepted to King's [College]. I didn't realize at the time how good of a decision it was," he said.

The honour of being selected captain of the Western football team is an unmatched title within the locker room. The purple connection in his family made the teammate-voted selection even more special. "Being captain means a lot to me. I called my dad that night and it was an emotional moment," Richter said.

Dave Shoebottom, Richter's positional coach at defensive line and a former Mustangs player, pointed to the captain's personal qualities which make him an ideal leader for this year's team.

"Graig brings energy to the game and to practice. He has a genuine enthusiasm about doing things with other guys on the team during off the field events," Shoebottom continued. "His attitude is infectious and is what is important with your team leader."

Fellow defensive lineman Adrian Rocca, who switched positions last year from linebacker, echoed the sentiments of Shoebottom.

"Richter's intense in practice and that makes him motivational because he always wants to be the first in line for drills. He's teaching me new things about the position," Rocca said.

Richter's prominence on the football field may come from his past sporting experiences. A Nelson Secondary School graduate from Burlington, Richter was the defensive MVP of the 1997 Metro Bowl, Toronto's high school football championship game, and also played for Nelson's soccer team. The Mustangs captain was also unexpectedly drafted to the Ontario Hockey League's North Bay Centennials, where he played four games, getting on the score sheet with one assist before his OHL career was put to rest.

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