Regina Rams fit mindset of incoming commits

Regina welcomes two CJFLers and one high schooler to their team.

Linebacker Cole Benkic from Walter Murray Collegiate, offensive lineman Michele Vecchio from Rutland Senior Secondary and defensive back Chase Ellingson from Royal Imperial College of Canada will all be converging on the University of Regina, drawn to the school by the allure of promise and prospect.

Cole Benkic

Courtesy of Cole Benkic.

The 2017 U Sports season will be a rebound year for Cole Benkic. When he was entering the 2016 season, he was rated as the number one returning player in the CJFL. Destiny had other plans. After breaking his leg, he was subjected to several surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation process that sidelined him indefinitely.

“I just want to thank the Rams coaches for showing so much confidence in me despite the fact I didn’t play last season,” Benkic said. “I can’t wait to hit the field again playing for the Regina Rams.”

Cole Benkic makes the block. By Louis Christ.

Moving to Regina, Saskatchewan, won’t be such a shock for Benkic. The five-year Saskatoon Hilltop (CJFL) is originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “I chose Regina because it is still somewhat close to home, but also looking to experience a new city,” he said.

“The team atmosphere is great. The team’s success last year shows that the new coaching staff is taking the Rams in the right direction and I’m excited to now be apart of that. I’m looking forward to playing with a new group of guys,” Benkic added.

The 6’1, 220lbs outside linebacker has had the opportunity to meet all of his future coaches on his official visit. He said they were very accommodating and he was impressed with the experience. “I saw a lot of intensity and drive to push players to improve their game,” Benkic added.

During his career with the Hilltops, Benkic has stocked up on the trophies. His team has won four national championships in 2012 and from 2014 to 2016. In 2015, he was a Prairie Football Conference all-star, a CJFL all-Canadian and the CJFL defensive player of the year. He is interested in taking environmental biology.

Michele Vecchio

Courtesy of Michele Vecchio.

Benkic will be accompanied by fellow CJFLer, Michele Vecchio. Unlike Benkic, Vecchio has been playing with the Okanagan Sun (CJFL). Originally from Kelowna, BC, Vecchio feels confident in his decision to enter the U Sports league.

“(Regina) felt like a comfortable move from the Okanagan Sun,” Vecchio said. “The whole atmosphere, from the coaches, players, fans and the school, (was appealing).”

Indeed, Vecchio’s ideals have aligned pretty nicely with his new bench bosses. He said the coaches were very welcoming and that their mindset, expectations and goals for the new season are similar to his.

Standing at 6’1, 305lbs, the future psychology major has also played with Kelowna Minor Football and the Rutland Voodoos (BC Secondary Schools Football Association). He is a three-time BCFC all-star, a two-time all-Canadian and a former BCFC top offensive lineman. In 2015, he captured a Cullen Cup.

With the season fast approaching, there is nothing that can replace being out on the field. Vecchio probably agrees. He said, “I’m just excited for the upcoming season.”

Chase Ellingson

Courtesy of Chase Ellingson.

Set to cross provincial borders, Chase Ellingson will be heading back out west to join the Rams. While he calls Swan River, Manitoba, his hometown, he has been playing with the RICC Knights in St. Catharines, Ontario. Regina promises to be worth the move, however.

“It really just felt like the perfect fit. They are the top ranked team in Canada West this past season,” Ellingson said, “and the coaching staff is amazing and that was a huge factor in making my decision.”

Currently holding a 98% average, Ellingson is planning on taking kinesiology. He said that Regina has one of the top kinesiology programs in the country.

The 6’0, 190lbs cornerback has played with multiple teams in his career. He has played with the Swan Valley Tigers (RURAL Manitoba Football League) from grade seven to ten and the Canada Prep Academy Raiders in grade 11. He has suited up for U16 Team Manitoba Gold and is a two-time U18 Team Manitoba participant. He has also played with the Elite Opportunities All-Canadian team, the SouthSask Selects and Team Canada.

While with U16 Team Manitoba, he was a started cornerback. The following year, he was the RMFL rookie of the year, the Tigers’ rookie of the year, a league all-star and provincial champion. He also started at cornerback with U18 Team Manitoba twice as well as with the Raiders and RICC Knights. In grade 12, he was a team captain and was invited to the Nike Opening.

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

Leave a Reply