Stingers Head Coach Gerry McGrath first met Palatnikov at a basketball game last winter. Palatnikov hadn't played a down of football in his life.Concordia, as an English-language school in a bilingual city of 3 million people, has always had a roster that very much reflects Canada's multicultural mosiac. For that reason, the name Sasha Palatnikov did not stick out as much as it should have while watching the RDS broadcast of the Concordia-Laval game last week.
“I didn’t know who he was,” McGrath recalled. “He was about 210-215 pounds, but the way he walked and carried himself got my attention. I asked him if he ever played football, and he said no.”
As the story details, he grew up in Australia before coming to Canada to study. He ended up finding that the football at Concordia was more challenging to him than rugby, so he switched after being recruited by McGrath.
One impulse here is to start compiling the All-Unlikely Team -- the 26 playes across the country who took the unlikeliest route to starting on a CIS football team. Simon Fraser has its Viennese contingent, where QB Bernd Dittrich throws to Daniel Stanzel, while Valentin Gruber keeps pass rushers out of his face.
The floor is open to suggestions. Ottawa's Jason Peterson, who is listed as a DL/OL/P, can be the kicking specialist. (Since this team is all about people who can adapt, one of the receivers or defensive backs can take on the placekicking duties.)
Australian rugby player takes to Canadian football; Concordia University lineman takes the unlikely road to gridiron (Jared Book, Canadian University Press)