Undersized Petros Proved His Worth in Calgary
Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
Tim Petros might have been baking up some of Southern Alberta’s most unique
and popular pizzas a lot earlier.
Because his football career was this close to being over before it had really even
As the story goes, back in 1979, Calgary Dinos head coach Mike Lashuk had no
interest in bringing Petros, a ve-foot-10 running back who might have weighed
165 pounds soaking wet and wasn’t even 18, from rookie camp to main camp.
He was too little, the coach said, too small.
But Calgary’s running back coach felt otherwise. He’d seen the kid’s shiftiness
and speed. No one had been able to tackle Petros in practice. So he made Lashuk
At the start of main camp, they would run a pit drill – a callous test widely
regarded as the toughest in football – and Petros would be rst man up. If
someone tacked Petros, the running back coach told Lashuk, you can cut him.
“I was nervous as hell, because (Lashuk) shouts out, ‘Where’s this Petros kid?’,”
recalls Petros. “There’s still 60 other young kids there, and he says ‘You’re up, let’s
“He brought the best linebacker out rst to come and tackle me, but I deked him
out. And then I deked the next guy and the next guy, and I went through every
linebacker. Nobody tackled me.”
“And then I remember Lashuk throwing his binder on the oor and saying ‘God
“And then I got invited back.”
And the rest is history.
Petros would go on to have a decorated ve-year career with the Dinos,
culminating with a Vanier Cup. He then had a seven-year run in the CFL with his
hometown Stampeders, and now he’s the pizza guru behind Tim’s Gourmet Pizza
in Cochrane, where some of his best customers are his old U of C teammates.
“It’s almost like exactly when we were playing when I see these guys, whether
they come into my little restaurant, or I see them at the farmer’s market, it’s like
we’re back in the old days.”
Like toppings on his famous pies, these memories remain fresh for Petros,
who grew up working in his uncle’s restaurant and then for his father at Nick’s
Steakhouse & Pizza, never far from the oven.
“I always cooked,” he says. “Even when I was a kid, I remember going to my
uncle’s pizza restaurant and I’d make the dough. I love the smell as it rises and it
was always so soft, it was so beautiful, I just sort of fell in love with it.”
Just across the way from Nick’s – so close that deliveries arrive piping hot – sits
McMahon Stadium, the home to Petros’ other passion.
An unheralded university football prospect coming out of John G. Defeinbaker
High School, Petros started at running back for the Dinos in Week 2 of his rst
22 CANADA WEST YEARBOOK
year and held that spot down for the next ve years at McMahon.
“I believed I could play, I always did,” said Petros, who didn’t learn of the coaches’
bet that decided his fate until a few years later. “I knew there was certain things I
had to learn to do and I did learn to do.”
Petros was a three-time conference All-Star with the U of C and led the Dinos in
rushing four of his ve seasons. He still ranks among the program’s top 10 alltime
for both rushing and receiving yards, though it’s ultimately one game that
de nes his university career.
The last one.
After nishing a distant fourth in the 1982 league standings, the Dinos made
Peter Connellan their new head coach going into Petros’ senior year. Calgary
struggled mightily out of the gate, losing both its exhibition contests and its rst
two regular season games, but Petros held rm a belief his team could win the
1983 Vanier Cup.
“In my second year we were very good; we lost in the playo s to Alberta, and
they went on to win the Vanier Cup,” he recalls. “I was still pretty young but
nobody really impressed upon me how important that playo game was and
what it would mean if we won. I remember being in the locker room and the
coach and a bunch of the old vets were crying, and I was thinking, ‘Geez, it’s just
a game, what are you crying for?’. Being young I didn’t realize how important it
“When I got to my last year, we started o 0-4, but for some reason I knew how
good we were,” Petros continues. “I remember calling some of the other captains
in and saying, ‘We’ve got to have a team meeting and tell these guys what’s at
stake here,’ because back in the day no one told me how close we were to being
the best team in the country, and I didn’t realize it until after the fact we lost.
“Once you know that you can be the best, the expectations go up and everybody
performs and does better.”
Sure enough, Calgary won its nal six regular season games. The Dinos then beat
UBC in the Hardy Cup to advance to the Vanier Cup, where they would face the
favoured Queen’s Gaels at the 21,000-plus seat Varsity Stadium in Toronto.
“It was packed, and when we were out there warming up they were throwing
snowballs at us … and they were all screaming against us.
“But it didn’t matter.”
Petros ran wild that day, racking up a Vanier Cup record 260 rushing yards on 25
carries, to go with 51 receiving yards and 94 yards on returns. He was awarded
the Ted Norris Memorial Trophy as most outstanding player in Calgary’s 31-21
“It was so much fun, just being there with all of your good friends that you grew
up with, ghting hard to win that game,” he says. “To win everything means
That could have been the point where he traded in his helmet for a chef’s hat.
Throughout university, Petros had continued working at Nick’s, only furthering
his love and knowledge of the restaurant biz, but the gridiron kept calling.