TORONTO—The first thing many notice about Argonauts' kicker Swayze Waters is the name. It's earned him plenty of "best name in the CFL" mentions, and he said that's a long-standing trend.
"I get that a lot, really," he said Saturday. "Little League baseball, I'd play tournament ball and I'd always make the all-name team, so it's kind of funny. Obviously, I'm just used to it, but whenever I come to a new place, everyone gets a kick out of the name, asks was my mom a big Patrick Swayze fan. It's actually a family name, it's my great-grandmother's maiden name."
For some, it might get frustrating to be perennially asked about the name. That's not the case for Waters, though, who said he doesn't mind people remarking on it.
"I'm used to it by now," he said. "I've heard all the Patrick Swayze jokes, 'Nobody puts baby in a corner!' and all that kind of stuff."
Yet, although the more-well-known Swayze isn't Waters' eponym, there are definitely some similarities between him and some of the characters Swayze played. You could see Waters uttering some of Derek Sutton's lines in Youngblood or being as tough as Red Dawn's Jed Eckert, but the most apt may be James Dalton's famous line from Road House, "Pain don't hurt." That's the case for Waters as well; he broke his thumb earlier this year and wears a cast over it, but isn't complaining.
"I broke my thumb five weeks ago in Winnipeg; it just hasn't healed yet," he said. "The way it broke, it's just kind of hanging off the side, so it takes a bit longer to heal."
This is Waters' first year in the CFL and his first Grey Cup, and he said the experience takes some getting used to.
"It's been a busy week," he said. "For sure, more hectic than normal with practices changing and events and media and you know, this is kind of the end of it. All the focus is on relaxing and getting ready for the game after this. I'm just going to try to block everything out and do my normal routine and treat it just like another game."
He said repetition of that routine is crucial to kicking success.
"In kicking it's all about fundamentals, doing the same thing every time," Waters said. "I kick the same amount of balls in pre-game, I have to kick the same amount of balls on the sideline to prepare for a kick, I go through my warmup steps and just do kind of a dry run before I go out and kick. That's stuff I'm used to and if I didn't do it just because it's a bigger stage or if I changed up my routine, I might not feel as comfortable."
Waters said from a repetition standpoint, it will help to be playing in the Rogers Centre where he's kicked all year.
"It does feel good," he said. "We've got the home locker room, that's nice, as it gives you more of an at-home feeling."
He's particularly happy not to be kicking outdoors at this time of the year.
"As a kicker, kicking in a dome is about all you can ask for," Waters said. "I'm definitely excited about it being in a dome and not in the snow and 50-mile-an-hour winds."
Still, the Rogers Centre won't be exactly as it was all year, as there will be a sold-out crowd of over 50,000 in attendance for the Grey Cup.
"Obviously it's going to be a lot different atmosphere here than it was during the regular season," Waters said.
Waters is enthused about that, though.
"It's been pretty awesome," he said. "I've never played in a championship game of this magnitude. The Grey Cup is a huge thing in itself, and for it to be the 100th, there's been tons of buzz around the city. A lot of people are excited."
Count Waters amongst those. For a few hours after the game starts at 6 p.m. Eastern Sunday, he'll only have to worry about executing on the field, not having people quote movies at him. After all, a field goal by a player of any name is still worth three points...