Dunigan guest speaker at Vanier athletic banquet

Public can drop by to hear him Wednesday night in school gym

Everyone is talking about concussions in sports these days. Matt Dunigan is an expert on the subject.

“Put aside the fact that it ended my playing career, punched holes in my memory and put life as I knew it on indefinite hold, it wasn’t that tough a hit.”

That’s how Goin’ Deep, Dunigan’s memoir of his 14-year journey as a Canadian Football League quarterback, begins. His career was brought to a shattering halt on an afternoon in Hamilton in 1996 in a game he still cannot remember.

G.P. Vanier coach/athletic director Larry Street and his wife Peggy read the book and really liked it. “(There were) many names in it I knew from my SFU days, and kids I had coached at various schools. My wife and I talked about how great his book was, and we thought it would be great to have him come here.

“So … I showed some audacity and e-mailed him, asking if he was interested in coming to be our guest speaker at our athletic banquet.  One month later, he replied, and since I was also including his lovely wife in the invitation, he said yes,” Street said.

“I mentioned to Matt about Peggy’s own perils with concussions, our fledgling football programs, the unfortunate suicide issue here in the Valley, and that he would be visiting the most beautiful Valley in the whole world.”

And that is how Dunigan comes to be in the Comox Valley this week for a series of events that culminates Wednesday at the Vanier athletic banquet, which runs from 6 o 9 p.m. The public is welcome to hear him for 20 minutes at approximately 7:30 p.m. for a nominal cost at the door.

Street noted local businesses such as Crown Isle, Kingfisher Resort, Laughing Oyster, Apple Auto Glass, Comox Valley Raiders Football, Knight Inlet Lodge, TC Valley Collision, B.C. Lions and Fluid Bar and Grill were all helpful in bringing the CFL Hall of Famer to town.

“Matt had met local football coaches Dean Wyatt and Pat Pidsosny at camps on the mainland.  Pat has also been instrumental in helping this event to happen, and Dean Wyatt has been a fantastic resource who is taking good care of Matt and his wife Kathy,” Street said.

With his football career, books and role as football analyst for TSN, Dunigan is “certainly one of the more well-known celebrities we’ve had at the banquet, and probably the most famous,” Street said.

“An important note on all of this – we are going to meet one of the more down-to-earth professional athletes you could ever meet, and one with character too. June 4 to 6 should be a