Tazmin Smith-Windsor is no stranger to the gridiron and will be honoured for his achievements on the field at the Kinsmen Sportsman Dinner this weekend after being named the Kinsmen Male Athlete of the Year.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it.” Smith-Windsor said. “It kind of caught me off guard, but I got a call from Jared Devers and he said (that I) won the award. I was happy (and) I just felt grateful to be recognized by the club and happy to represent my city.”
Smith-Windsor was a standout on both sides of the ball as a defensive back and running back during his time with the Carlton Crusaders. He committed to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football program in the fall of 2022 and is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences.
Although Prince Albert boasts the nickname of ‘Hockeytown North’, Smith-Windsor says football is gaining traction within the community.
“I think it kind of goes to show how football is a growing sport in Prince Albert. Personally for me, it means a lot that a football player won the award. PA is a big hockey town, not to take anything away from them, but I think it’s good that football is growing as a sport and the people that run the programs up here (are) doing a good job and making sure that everybody gets the opportunity to go far and succeed in whatever sport they want to.”
Smith-Windsor was often on the gridiron representing the province of Saskatchewan. Most recently, he suited for Team Sask at the U18 Football Canada Cup where he won Defensive MVP in the gold medal game.
“It’s awesome.” Smith-Windsor said about the experience. “It’s different for sure, playing on the team and most of the guys are from bigger schools in Saskatoon like St. Joe’s and Holy Cross and then again from Regina powerhouses like Miller. Half the players in the team are from there.”
After being an impact player with Carlton in his high school career, Smith-Windsor redshirted with the Huskies this past fall. Smith-Windsor says the jump in competition from high school to collegiate football is significant.
“It’s a night and day difference. It’s a step up for sure. Everyone’s driven, everyone’s motivated, everyone’s bigger, faster, stronger. You hear it all the time. Everyone’s bigger, faster, stronger at the next level. But you don’t really realize until you’re on the field with these guys. There are no bad players anymore. Everyone’s good. You have got to fight to earn your spot on the team and earn your spot as an active player for sure.”
The Huskies finished the 2023 Canada West Football season with a 5-3 record and fell in the semi-final to the University of Alberta Golden Bears 40-17. Heading into the offseason, Smith-Windsor says he is focused on improving to become a fixture in the Huskie lineup next season
“I got to work on my speed a little bit. This game is so much faster at this level. I’m going to have to work with my trainer in the off season, making sure I get my speed up and just getting a little bit more used to the defensive system.”
“It is so much different. It’s complex. You need to be smart to excel in that kind of defense, so that’s something I’m going to have to do. Like in the film room, watch a ton of tape and get into the playbook and make sure that I have all that dialed in ready to go for the season.”
The 2024 Kinsmen Sportsman Dinner takes place this Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Ches Leach Lounge at the Art Hauser Centre. Bruce Vance will be named Sportsman of the Year with Gage Grassick receiving Female Athlete of the Year honours. The guest speaker is former NHLer Chris Chelios.