TORONTO – At six feet eight inches tall and 304 pounds, Joe Eppele is one of the biggest men on the field. Off the field, Eppele also happens to have one of the biggest hearts. This offensive lineman of the Toronto Argonauts spoke to the Admirals after practice, telling us all about his successful road to the CFL, as well as the different routes he has taken to get where he is today.
In his high school days, Joe Eppele was one of the best shot-putters and hammer-throwers in all of Canada. He competed successfully at the Junior Nationals and Pan American games, representing Canada. Just before his senior year of high school, Eppele moved from his small town of Brackendale, British Columbia to attend Vancouver College and be closer to his track and field coach. Living away from Brakendale for two years made the transition from his BC home to a large-scale NCAA school much easier. From the people around Eppele, it must have looked like he had a bright future in track and field.
Eppele surprised all and chose football. Some may ask why he chose that route and according to Joe it was the “team aspect of [football], having the opportunity to work with other guys rather than just being accountable for yourself, you are accountable for the team [plus you have] the comradery around it”.
Following three years of football at Washington State, Eppele set his sights on the CFL, rather than the NFL. “I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time at Washington State so when I came out I told my agent I wanted to focus on the CFL. By that time I had lost my love for the sport, but coming out here brought my love back”. It is because of the route that Eppele chose that makes everyone around him happy, as not only does Eppele benefit the organization on the field, but he is a treasure to the city on and off the field.
Aside from football, Eppele spends his time off the field giving back to the youth of the community through the Argonauts’ Huddle Up Against Bullying program, presented by Tim Hortons. Reflecting back on his and his brother’s life experiences, Eppele wants to give back to the community to make life easier for other kids. “Any chance I get to give back and get out there and create awareness, and make it easier on other kids, I am going to take advantage of the opportunity.”
For those of you looking to interact with Eppele, you can usually find him at Shoeless Joe’s at 276 King St. W. after home games. Find him on twitter @JoeEppele59 or look out for any Argos player event, as you are most likely to see him there, too.