Record-breaking CFL kicker may be the one screening you at Kingston, Ont. hospital
KINGSTON -- Ask any offensive lineman and they’ll tell you the kicker typically never goes near the frontline.
Ottawa Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward might argue with that. During a prolonged CFL off-season, one of the CFL’s best has owned the frontline.
Ward has been working at Kingston General Hospital, in his hometown of Kingston, Ont., as an access control screener.
Ward is as humble as they come, he says it’s just an off-season job. An off-season job that just happens to be in a hospital, during a pandemic.
"We screen them, help them if they need to go to their appointments, direct them in the right way to go," he explains. "If they need any assistance, we’re kind of the first people they come in contact with."
Working in the role since November, people move past Ward, who stands only about 5-foot-7, with no idea they just had an encounter with a record-breaking CFL kicker.
Ward holds the record for consecutive field goals in the CFL, with 69 straight.
"It’s eye opening in a way. I definitely didn’t realize in a way how many people are coming in and out of the hospital. It’s a busy, busy place," he says.
Redblacks punter and holder Richie Leone is a big part of Ward’s streak, and knows the kicker well. He says, it’s no surprise to him.
"It speaks a lot to his character," says Leone. "He's a humble guy. He's got humble roots, even with the success that he's had."
Working on the frontlines is a family affair, with Ward working alongside his biggest fan, his mom.
Angela Ward is a nurse, redeployed to urgent care herself, and says she knew it was the perfect role for him.
"He's used to, you know, greeting people and meeting people and putting himself out there," she says. "I just knew he's such a caring chap as well. He's got a good heart."
While the schedule gives him a chance to do some good, it also allows him to keep up for next season. Training in the evening hours at a facility deemed essential for professional athletes a few times a week.
With the CFL slated to start up again in August, Ward will soon return to the game he loves, and maybe some new on-field heroics. But he says what he’s learned from the real heroes on the frontlines during the pandemic will stay with him.
"I can't imagine some of the work that they have to do," says Ward. "And I think that's why a lot of it is sort of kept to them because they you know, they just want to do their work."