MONTREAL – Anthony Calvillo is committed to being the head coach of the Canadian Football League.
He’s so restricted in that role that the former quarterback with Montreal Aloette and native of Los Angeles became a Canadian citizen on November 19.
“It was thrilling to lastly get it and it has been postponed for a yr attributable to COVID,” Calvillo said before Thursday’s game between the Saskatchewan Rogriders and Alwight at Percival Molson Stadium.
Calvillo’s retirement as a footballer in 2014 helped advance him to become a Canadian citizen. He was allowed to remain in Canada during his playing days because his work permit classified him as a professional athlete.
This description is no longer in effect upon his retirement. Then he felt he had to start the process – which took three years to complete – to become a Canadian citizen.
The CFL’s all-time leader in passing yards had other reasons to seek citizenship. Calvilo and his wife Alexia have two daughters (Olivia and Athena) who were born and raised in Montreal.
“I have been able to obtain my citizenship and have the flexibility to either stay here or go back home,” said Calvillo, who spent 12 of his 20 seasons as a quarterback in Montreal. “My girls didn’t want to go anywhere else. I’m sure I didn’t want to go anywhere else because that was where they wanted to be.”
Calvillo broke into the Canadian Football League in 1994 with the Las Vegas Posse. He then spent three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger Cats (1995-97) before joining Aloitte in 1998.
He retired as a professional football passer, having thrown for 79,816 yards with 455 touchdowns. He has since been surpassed by Tom Brady (84,520 passing yards and 624 touchdowns) and Drew Breeze (80,358 passing yards and 571 touchdown).
Calvillo appeared in eight Gray Cup games, winning them all in 2002, 2009 and 2010. He was named League Player of the Year in 2003, 2008 and 2009 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
He took some time off from football before joining the Alouettes in 2015 on his first stint as an assistant coach. He worked as a receiving coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach during the 2017 season.
In 2018, he moved to the Toronto Argonauts, meeting again with coach Mark Triestman as the quarterbacks coach. It was with Triestemann as coach of Montreal that Calvillo enjoyed some of his most productive seasons with Aloette.
“I enjoyed my time in Toronto and learned a lot from Mark and the coaching staff,” Calvilo, who turns 50, said on August 29. “For me it was more important than being back in Montreal and under the roof of my house than being in Toronto.”
Calvillo returned to school in 2019 with the University of Montreal Carabinieri, serving as assistant head coach (2019), offensive coordinator (2020) and quarterback coach (2021).
“It has been three years not simply to educate the fellows as footballers, however as guys who will exit into the world,” Calvilo said. “I was very proud of what we were able to achieve in such a short time. I was honored and blessed to be back at Alwette. (Head coach) Jary Jones gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge and help this team move forward.”
The transition from training Canadian college athletes to professional training was Calvilo’s adjustment.
“I needed to perceive what degree we’re at and what I can ask my midfielders about,” he said. “It helped me as a coach because I have to see the match through the eyes of the middle and see what he is capable of doing. It gave me the opportunity to take a step back, be more patient and communicate better.
“I really worked to explain myself properly. If I didn’t, I would have the guys give me their feedback on what I said and whether it made sense.”
Calvilo was reappointed as the coach of the brokers in Montreal on January 6. He barely had time to settle into his job when the CFL revealed plans designed to ramp up offensive production after what was considered a sub-par 2021 season.
One of the more dramatic changes was the tightening of ticks. The ticks are now 28 yards from the nearest sideline instead of 24. They are nine yards apart compared to the previous 17 yards.
“Now you possibly can assault sure components of the sector and it does not matter in case you’re on the left or the proper hash,” Calvilo said. “We are seeing the transition now, but we will always see the league trying to give preference to offenses. I give a lot of credit to the defensive coordinators and defensive players because their jobs are very difficult and difficult.”
Calvillo noticed the trend of young midfielders taking over from more veteran players in this position. He is looking forward to being a part of this growth.
“I want to be able to share my experience with them,” Calvillo said. “I want to push them to their limits and see them grow because as they grow, our role will continue to grow.
“I do know you want some robust midfield play on this league so as to rating factors, entertain the followers, and have an opportunity to win.”
The world of sports is constantly changing, as is the case with the times. Complete your consistent sports coverage diet with a subscription to Regina Leader-Post’s 306 Sports Fix the news. Each week, Sports Editor Rob Vanstone will provide additional commentary on the Roughriders, Pats and other teams/sports of interest, along with a sneak peek behind the curtain. Click here to subscribe.