Her team may not be in it, but that hasn’t stopped Janice Owen from heading to Edmonton for this weekend’s festivities.
In fact, Owen has attended every Grey Cup since the fateful 2009 Grey Cup in Calgary.
It was one of the most heartbreaking losses Rider fans had to endure – the club lost to that infamous 13th man penalty – but despite that, Owen realized there was just something about that big national celebration.
“I just fell in love with the Grey Cup, everything about it, and decided it was something I wanted to come to every year – and I have,” she said from her hotel room in Edmonton.
Usually, she convinces her sister to come with her, but some years she’s gone alone and doesn’t mind that either.
That’s because she’s found a community of CFL fans on Twitter that she interacts with all year. Grey Cup, for many of these people, is a yearly reunion.
“That’s mostly what I do with my Twitter (account) is interact with CFL people and you end up seeing them every year (at Grey Cup) which is fabulous. The CFL fans are just the best fans in any professional league,” Owen said.
And while 2013 – when the Roughriders won at home – was easily the best Grey Cup she ever attended, a Grey Cup she didn’t attend also stood out among the rest.
Owen had just moved to Edmonton in 1989 to start her first job as a nurse. She was able to watch the Riders clobber the Eskimos in the west final to make it to the championship the week before, but didn’t feel comfortable asking for time off for the Grey Cup since she had just started.
She showed up to her night shift in her Rider garb hoping she’d catch pieces of the game during her coffee breaks but was given a one-to-one assignment to a sick child who had just be moved from ICU.
“I thought ‘oh jeez, I’m going to be stuck in that room for 12 hours, I’m not going to see any of that game,’” she said.
But fate intervened.
“Well, I walk into the room and this little eight or nine-year-old boy was from Kindersley, but not only from Kindersley, but his dad and his grandpa had season tickets for the Riders. There were green balloons all around the room, Rider paraphernalia everywhere. Long story short, I watched the Grey Cup with a Rider family.”
A Cup the Roughriders went on to win 43-40 over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
And it’s a story that illustrated to Owen just how big the Rider umbrella is.
“You get a big, green hug wherever you go,” she said.