TORONTO, ON – Taylor Elgersma loves football. Maybe a little bit too much.
Michael Faulds, the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks head coach, often finds himself worrying if his quarterback thinks about nothing else.
“Sometimes, I have to meet with [Elgersma] just to tell him ‘it doesn’t all have to be football,’” Faulds said.
He wasn’t completely joking.
Elgersma’s schedule starts on Monday with a workout in the morning, a meeting with coaches on his own to review game plans in the afternoon and a walkthrough later in the day. From Tuesday to Thursday, he’s hitting the weights, studying in offensive film meetings, and attending evening practices. On Friday, he’ll have more meetings, another walkthrough before gameday on Saturday, and game film review on Sunday.
He has school somewhere in there. But the multi-year Academic All-Canadian — awarded to U Sports student-athletes on the dean’s list — doesn’t seem to sweat that, either.
Faulds calls Elgersma a “workaholic.” During the last few seasons, he recalls times when the fourth-year quarterback would text coaches shortly after practice to critique plays he watched from that night’s practice film.
The Laurier quarter back said it was Faulds who cultivated this mindset in him ever since he arrived on campus during the cancelled 2020 U Sports football season.
“Me and [Faulds] are wired so similar with how we compete, how much we care about football, the way that we want to lead and the way that we want to make Laurier football great,” Elgersma said.
On Sept. 9, all of Canadian university football saw the fruit of his labours.
In a 60-21 blowout of the University of Guelph Gryphons, Elgersma threw for a career-best 440 yards and six touchdowns, tying Laurier’s single-game touchdown pass record. If that wasn’t enough, he also added a cherry on top with a goal-line rushing touchdown.
The Golden Hawk humbly said that game was overdue for his offence, while Faulds believes he witnessed “one of the better U Sports QB performances I’ve ever seen.”
“It was almost like a three-point shooter who was just in a groove, and you’re shocked when a miss comes from Steph Curry. That’s kind of the zone that [Elgersma] was in,” Faulds explained.
After spoiling Guelph’s home-opener with his record performance, Elgersma and the Golden Hawks are riding an undefeated 3-0 season record.
Leading the Golden Hawks’ push towards contention
Just four seasons ago, when he was in high school, Laurier couldn’t even crack the playoffs. Now, with Elgersma at the reins, Laurier is an early OUA Yates Cup contender following a Week one victory over the Queen’s University Gaels, who some expected to go back to their third consecutive OUA championship game.
Elgersma explains this new era was ushered in when he and his fellow 2020 Laurier recruiting class came to town.
“Now that we’ve kind of had some time to mature in the offence, and we know our defence is always going to be at the top of the league, we’re now taking those steps to be where we want to be.”
Where Elgersma wants to be is in the Vanier Cup — a trophy that has eluded Laurier since 2005.
If Laurier is to go to another national championship, he and the Golden Hawks have a tough road ahead of them. One of the major roadblocks in their way is the Western University Mustangs, winners of the last two Yates Cups and the team that eliminated Laurier from the playoffs last season.
Elgersma already has that late-season matchup on Oct. 21 circled on his calendar.
“[It’s] gonna be a big one,” he said. “Hopefully we can both play our best up until that point, take it one week at a time, but that one I’m sure will be a fun one.”
This rivalry means more than just bragging rights to Elgersma — London, Ont. is his home.
He played high school football at Oakridge Secondary School, just a 10-minute drive from Western Alumni Stadium. Elgersma considered staying in the forest city during his recruiting cycle, but ultimately chose to go to a football program at Laurier that he could take to the top, compared to going to a school that hasn’t missed a Yates Cup since 2015.
“There’s something that’s always been special about Laurier,” he said. “We always have a bunch of guys that are dogs and guys that necessarily don’t care about all the super fancy and nice things, but guys that want to go play football and want to win games.”
When Elgersma began his first year at Laurier, there was no football. U Sports and the OUA cancelled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the young quarter back was forced to spend his freshman year waiting for his chance to shine.
Elgersma would eventually assume a backup role in his second year, before becoming the starter in 2022 and leading the Golden Hawks to their first playoff victory since 2017 when Laurier was captained by Michael Knevel.
The head coach compared his current 6’6” quarter back to his former offensive leader, a 6’4” Knevel, who took Laurier to two straight OUA Yates Cups in 2016 and 2017, winning in 2016.
“The similarities between [Knevel] and [Elgersma] are definitely that arm strength and that stature where, we were fortunate to have a really clean pocket, but even when there are big defensive linemen or linebackers breathing down his neck, when you are 6’6″ you can kind of see over it and avoid just staring at the rush,” Faulds said.
Looking forward, the Golden Hawks will host the University of Waterloo Warriors in the OUA Battle of Waterloo on Saturday. For Elgersma, the down-the-street rivalry is special every year.
“Every single time we play Waterloo, they give us their best version of themselves,” he said. “I know everyone cares about taking the city over and having the city be theirs for the year … we know they’re gonna throw everything they can at us.”
“We’re excited for the challenge.”