Both Alex Singleton and Eric Rogers know the Borderline Bar & Grill.
Singleton grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., after all, and his family still lives in the city.
Rogers went to college at California Lutheran University, which happens to call Thousand Oaks home.
So when a gunman opened fire on the Borderline Bar & Grill on Wednesday night, killing 12 country music fans, it hit close to home for both Calgary Stampeders.
“I woke up to phone calls at 6 (a.m.) from my mom and sister,” Singleton said. “My sister wasn’t there, but she was (home) two days earlier and would have been at the bar, so I think it was the first time my mom was happy we weren’t home.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve gotta stick together, hug someone you love and keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers.”
Thankfully, neither Rogers nor Singleton knew anybody who had been hurt or killed in Wednesday’s mass shooting, but it was nevertheless a shock to hear and read about it.
How could it not be?
“A lot of people I went to school with, everybody was talking about it,” Rogers said. “We went to that place plenty of times for college night, same night they were there for. You never know, anything can happen at any time. A guy walks up and starts doing what he’s doing, it’s not like he got in tight, he just walked up.”
Unfortunately, the people of Thousand Oaks also had to deal with more than just America’s latest tragic mass shooting.
Soon afterwards, a massive wildfire broke out near the Southern California city, prompting authorities to order a mandatory evacuation for large areas.
“There’s a fire, too, so my parents stayed up all night last night thinking they might get evacuated,” Singleton said. “Half the city’s been evacuated. November 8 is definitely going to be a long day in Thousand Oaks history.
“Everyone’s staying together, though. If you saw about the police officer who was shot, everyone was on the freeway bridges for him and there was a lot of support for him … It’s always been a great city, and obviously my thoughts are with the people there.”
Brandon Smith didn’t participate in Friday’s practice at McMahon Stadium.
The practice happened to fall a full nine days before the Stampeders are next set to take the field, of course, so the veteran halfback’s absence probably doesn’t provide much of an indicator of how the team is planning on lining up for the West Final on Nov. 18.
Make no mistake, though, this wasn’t a veteran’s day for Smith.
“He’s hurting,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “Our back end has been hurting a bit, there’s probably three or four guys who I think will be available but they were hurting.”
The good news for the Stampeders is they earned the right to give guys a day or two to recover, if they need it.
“That’s what’s great about the bye week, too, though, is you hopefully allow these guys a little bit of time and (get them) feeling as good as possible,” Dickenson said.
OTHER SMITH IN
It’s been a long time since Stampeders fans have seen Quinn Smith on the field.
Smith, who started his career as a defensive lineman before getting converted to the offensive line, hasn’t played once in 2018 and has spent most of the back half of the season on the six-game injured list.
On Friday, Smith was out on the field practising.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, he was back with the defensive line.
“Moved Quinn over,” Dickenson said. “Ultimately, (we’re) a little banged up at the (defensive tackle) position with (Ese Mrabure out). Looked to me like our depth was solid, we’ve been playing three American o-linemen, so moving Quinn over there to see if we need him. I don’t think he’s too upset.”
Smith played only two games in 2017 and one game this year, so it would be a shock if he was included in the lineup for either the West Final or the Grey Cup, should the Stamps get that far.
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