In conjunction with the Dinos’ 40th anniversary season, the Gauntlet is profiling influential athletes from five decades of Dinos history.
The 1980s was an impressive decade for Dinos football. Phenomenon quarterback Greg Vavra was one of the most influential players from this period, leading the Dinos from 1979 to 1983 and putting the University of Calgary’s football team in the national sports eye.
Vavra is the U of C’s all-time leader in passing attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He holds the record for most yards passed in one game, at 627, and achieved the longest field goal at 52 yards.
During Vavra’s five-year tenure, he participated in two of the most significant games in Dinos history. Dinos sports information director Jack Neumann recalls the Nov. 11 game of 1983 with pride.
“Remembrance Day in 1983 was probably one of the greatest college games I’ve had the honour to be a part of,” said Neumann. “Vavra led the team with a take-no-prisoners attitude and such ferocity. It was just gut-wrenching when they beat [the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds]. That game put this program on the map.”
The win catapulted the team to the Vanier Cup, where they beat defending national champion Queen’s University on home turf.
“The Vanier Cup was probably the highlight of my career,” said Vavra. “The only thing I can really remember is how much fun we had winning.”
Neumann also raves about the team’s performance in the Vanier Cup game.
“Vavra led an engineered drive that Queen’s just couldn’t defend against,” said Neumann. “They just led through the whole game.”
Vavra was named Canada West player of the year in both 1982 and 1983, U of C male athlete of the year and Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union all-Canadian quarterback in 1983. He was also awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy as MVP in Canadian college football. After his college achievements, he went on to play football in the Canadian Football League.
Vavra’s Dinos had an epic reputation stemming from their extensive camaraderie and teamwork. He looks back on his university days with great fondness.
“I’ve maintained so many of my friendships from those days,” said Vavra. “We were good friends on and off the field, and because of that we put in so much extra work. Though it didn’t really seem like extra work because we all just came together and made things happen.”
Vavra has many words of wisdom to impart on current Dinos.
“Use your eligibility to the fullest,” he said. “You’ve got to use your time well and get the most out of the sport. Once you’re out of university, your college eligibility never comes back. Prepare for the games and make the most of them.”
Vavra was inducted into the U of C Hall of Fame in 1995 and is currently the offensive coordinator for the Dinos football team.