When the Riders head east to take on the Redblacks Sunday, one Ottawa woman will be cheering loudly in green and white.
Jaclyn O’Shaughnessy may have been born and raised in the nation’s capital, but she’s been a proud member of Rider Nation since she started watching the CFL as a teenager.
When the Roughriders had a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014, she was ready to book a flight to Winnipeg if necessary.
“It’s really nice that I get to do it right here in my own city with all of my friends who now are my ‘frienemies,’” she said.
Now that Ottawa has a team, O’Shaughnessy said she does cheer for the Redblacks when they’re not playing Saskatchewan.
She admits she’s taking some extra heat this week from friends who cheer for the Redblacks, but laughs it off as good fun.
“I will never, ever, ever cheer against the Riders, so they know that. They’re chirping me for it, they chirp me every year, every game – I don’t care, I can wear it,” O’Shaughnessy said.
While she normally sits with her group of Redblack fans, for this playoff game O’Shaughnessy has friends from Saskatoon flying out to join her.
“I got myself a seat with them so we’re three rows up from the Riders’ bench, so we’ll be in pretty green territory,” she said.
Melissa Leib will be there Sunday with O’Shaughnessy. Leib is a Rider season-ticket holder from Saskatoon and drives down to Regina for every game she can.
“It feels so good, I can’t wait,” Leib said about finally seeing the team make the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
“When we knew we were going to make the playoffs we had decided — a couple of us — wherever they go, we’re going to go.”
Leib admits it was a bit expensive to buy plane tickets to Ottawa, but hopes it will be worth it to spend the long weekend there. She added the experience also allows them to be in the capital for Remembrance Day on Saturday.
With this eastern playoff swing, the Riders are vying to be the first CFL team to cross over between divisions in the semi-final and still make it to the Grey Cup.
Leib and O’Shaughnessy are both holding out hope that they will celebrate a win Sunday.
O’Shaughessy is hoping to see better consistency from the green and white on offence, defence and special teams. Leib said she wants to see “total dominance,” adding she would like to see her favourite player Duron Carter on offence or defence.
According to the Redblacks website, tickets are still available for the semi-final game for any fans who may be thinking of booking a last-minute trip. However, availability is low and the team is expecting a sellout.
Kickoff is Sunday at noon Saskatchewan time, 1 p.m. in Ottawa.