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VC grad crowned 'Canada's Smartest Person' in Toronto

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Lineman proves football players can think too
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Peter Dyakowski (second from right) shows off his "Canada's Smartest Person" award with his competitors chemistry teacher Dr. Marshall Carroll (left), spoken word artist Greg Frankson, and atomic physics graduate Laura Suen. Special to The B.C. Catholic.
Large football players usually beat intellectuals physically, not mentally. But Peter Dyakowski, a Vancouver College graduate who plays offensive lineman for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, showed he wasn't just a brute when he took home the title "Canada's Smartest Person."

When Dyakowski matched wits with a cellular and molecular biologist, a theoretical quantum chemist, and a spoken-word artist in a CBC contest he didn't expect to win the whole thing. "I only wanted to win one challenge so I wouldn't be embarrassed."

Dyakowski credited his day job with helping him overcome his brainy opponents. "Being involved in high-pressure situations in football probably gave me an advantage."
The 28-year-old wasn't known as a genius in his years at VC, but some faculty did notice his superior intellect.

"I taught Peter in Math 10, 11, and 12, although I am not sure whether I actually taught him very much," joked Carlos Friere, a VC math teacher.

He recalled one sunny day when most young men would normally be distracted from learning.

"I was teaching a lesson on finding the distance from a point to a line on a Cartesian plane. I proceeded in the usual manner, using lengths, angles, and trigonometry. As I was wrapping it up, very proud of the great job I had done, Peter spoke up and said: 'There's an easier method.'"

"Suffice it to say that I have taught the 'Peter Dyakowski' method ever since, which also has given me a chance to attack the dumb jock myth."

"Mr. Friere was a great teacher and left an impression on me," Dyakowski said. "I didn't realize how good the teachers were at VC."

While Dyakowski had a vast amount of intellectual ability, he thinks he was also a pain to his teachers and school administrators. He was a regular in detention.

"Getting assignments out of me was like pulling teeth," he said. Dyakowski was surprised that Mr. Friere spoke so highly of him. "I thought I was a thorn in his side, but he didn't remember that."

Dyakowski credits Fighting Irish football coach Todd Burnett with giving him a direction in life. Dyakowski said he wasn't really into football when he made the team back in Grade 10, but Burnett challenged him to better himself.

"Football was the first time I put any effort into anything," Dyakowski said.

During Dyakowski's first season, he found ways to skip out on practices and his responsibilities during games. Burnett challenged him to "bulk up" during the Grade 10 off season, which reinvigorated Dyakowski.

"Football was a lot of fun after that."

Burnett also helped Dyakowski get into Louisiana State University. The coach sent several VHS tapes to schools around the U.S., and Louisiana State head coach Nick Sabin saw the potential in Dyakowski and recruited him.

After five seasons with the Tiger-Cats, Dyakowski has started to think about life after football.

He's developed his own ice-vending company called "Ice Express." The company manufacturers Canada's first packaged-ice vending machines. The revolutionary machines are cheaper for retailers to operate than traditional methods of ice retailing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 08:44  

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