CLOVERDALE â€” After spending 12 years playing for the BC Lions, Geroy Simon’s decision to return home was a relatively easy one to make.
The Canadian Football League’s alltime leading receiver was announced as the team’s Football/Business Development Advisor last month after playing his last game at the 2013 Grey Cup for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The 16-year veteran spent last season in the Riders front office, but coming back to B.C. was always Simon’s plan.
The University of Maryland alumnus has been living in Surrey since 2004 and can’t really see himself call any other place home.
"At first, it was just convenience. It was close to the practice facility, but we’ve really entrenched ourselves into the community," he said, also noting his children go to school in Cloverdale. "All of their friends are in Surrey and we have our friends in Surrey."
Even when he was working in Regina, the Simon family remained at their current home because this is where he wanted to "set his roots" after his breakout year in 2003 where he caught 13 touchdown passes and racked up 1,687 yards.
"When I went to Saskatchewan, we always
felt that B.C. was our home," said Simon.
"In this type of business, you always have to have a home base. No matter where you’re at."
It was after that 2003 season when the three-time Grey Cup champion started to get involved with the community by going to local schools as well as coaching his son’s community football team.
In 2012, Simon’s last season with the Lions, he coached his Cloverdale Minor team to a provincial championship while trying to complete his bachelor’s degree.
Simon would have frantic days where he would rush home after his own practice to get cleaned up and eat before coaching his team’s practice.
"The first 10 minutes before (coaching) practice, I’d sleep in my car. I was just mentally drained," the six-time CFL All-Star said. "It’s those points that make you appreciate the time that you have with the kids. When you’re giving everything you have not only to your own career, but to these kids and you see them… and they play with so much energy and so much passion. It makes you feel good that you’re doing the right thing."
Now that he no longer has to board an airplane on his commute, Simon is happy to be reunited with his family and the football organization where he feels "at home."