Photo courtesy of Wanda Harron Photography
The Regina Thunder officially became a member of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) in 2000 as part of the Prairie Conference. Originally the Regina franchise of the CJFL was known as the Rams until they left for the University ranks following the 1998 season. In 2000 the team was known as the Prairie Thunder before dropping the “Prairie” name in 2005.
The Thunder have been fortunate to play on a CFL field since they began. They started at Taylor Field until 2018 when they moved with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to the new Mosaic Stadium. They have also played a handful of games at Leibel Field in the last couple of years.
Since 2000 the Thunder have had success in the Prairie Conference with an overall record of 76-63 to date. Despite the winning record the Thunder have just one Conference title; which was in 2013.
As a matter of fact that 2013 season was magical for the Thunder. After hiring current head coach Scott MacAulay, the Thunder finished 5-2-1 in the regular season. In the playoffs they defeated the Edmonton Huskies 26-17, before upsetting the top ranked Saskatoon Hilltops 21-16 on the road in the Conference final and won the right to host the Canadian Bowl. In the national championship game they dismantled the VI Raiders 55-26 to win their first and only Canadian title.
Since becoming the Thunder in 2000, the club has had a couple of national award winners including the 2002 Gordon Currie Coach of the Year Randy Shaw and in 2003 Steve Wilson was named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. This past year in 2020 defensive lineman Jordan Tholl was named the Past Commissioner’s Award winner after tremendous volunteer work in the Regina area.
The Thunder currently have three players on a CFL roster, all members of the Roughriders; Logan Ferland, Zack Evans and Dan Clark.
Quick Thunder Facts:
Conference – Prairie Conference
Location – 1700 Elphinstone St, Regina, SK
Team President – Murad Al-Katib
Head Coach – Scott MacAulay
Stadium – Mosaic Stadium
Social Handle -@reginathunder, @reginathunderfootballclub
Motto – “Together We Roll”
Primary Colours – Maroon and Navy
Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich has demonstrated an incredible amount of leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and has been named the 2020 CJFL Stewart MacDonald Executive Of The Year.
Starting from the very early days of the pandemic, Jim had envisioned the difficult path that was before us and began to strategize and approach to deal with the situation.
Jim’s calm, cool, and measured approach kept the Canadian Junior Football League on track to making a difficult decision based on a tremendous amount of information from multiple sources. The outcome ultimately wound up being the best decision one could make for the safety and well being for the athletes, coaches and entire CJFL.
The Commissioner spent hundreds of hours, talking with experts, politicians, doctors, CFL football executives and a multitude of CJFL members throughout the country in the early stages of the pandemic. Jim had developed a primary plan as well as many multi leveled and layered contingency plans and was able to present these to stakeholders in a matter that had led to the consistent buy in and ownership of all the parties involved.
His in-depth analysis and planning put the CJFL in a place where the league moved methodically forward while maintaining an optimistic view for what was to come. Timelines were developed for primary and secondary strategies, input was requested and documented and thoroughly discussed with all the key stakeholders allowing for educated thought through debates and decisions.
Although the cancellation of the 2020 season and the Canadian Bowl was not the desire of anyone, when it came time to make that decision everyone was confident that the league had viewed and analyzed all angles and the best decision for the safety of the whole was made. Despite the gravity of this decision the CJFL holds the belief that we are still in a strong position to succeed going forward and faith or optimism has not been lost for future seasons. This was accomplished only because Jim’s complete dedication and commitment to ensure no stone was left unturned before a decision was made. His desire and professional, positive attitude was the glue that held the CJFL executive together throughout this challenging time.
The CJFL did not react hastily nor erratically when it came time to cancel the 2020 season. Jim epitomized the old-World War II mantra of “stay calm and carry on.”
Jim has won this award previously in 2015, and it is a testament to his extreme ability to lead our league that he is awarded the Executive Of The Year five years later. Many have discussed that with Jim Pankovich at the vanguard of this crisis, we were never in a position of defeat but in a position of growth and evolution of the game of junior football in Canada.
After great debate Jordon Tholl of the Regina Thunder has been named the 2020 Past Commissioner Award winner for outstanding community service. Jordan has gone above and beyond to help with several organizations within Regina and certainly hasn't let the pandemic slow him down.
Congratulations Jordan Tholl.
Here is the original nomination:
Defensive lineman Jordon Tholl of the Regina Thunder would have played in his fifth and final CJFL season here in 2020, however the pandemic stopped him from that goal.
Despite the cancelled season, that did not stop Jordan from giving back to his community. He has demonstrated incredible leadership off the field volunteering in several charitable events and organizations.
He is the Prairie Conference “Al Park Community Award” winner and is a nominee for the CJFL Past Commissioner Award which is given to a player that has shown a commitment to make a valuable contribution within the community.
Jordan talks with Ryan Watters below about some of the inspiring organizations he volunteers with.
Here is Jordan’s official nomination put forth by the Thunder and Prairie Conference:
Jordan is a fifth year player with our club and has demonstrated leadership on & off the field. He is admired and respected by his teammates and coaches always leading by example. He has completely bought into the concept of “winning on and off the field” and is an active member of the community and shows great commitment to the Regina Thunder football program all year round. Jordan was a strong leader for our rookies during the COVID 19 pandemic through his work as co-creator of “SaskMasks,” a social enterprise that manufactured and designed masks for the pandemic response. This initiative raised over $50,000 for local charities. Jordan was able to take a difficult and stressful time in the pandemic to demonstrate to his teammates that you can take a difficult situation and lend your efforts to make a difference.
Jordan is a student athlete enrolled in Business Administration at the University of Regina. He has managed to balance a strong commitment to his team, his community, and his studies.
He is a dominant player on the field but truly has a heart for children, people in need and those socioeconomically disadvantaged. Jordon is a two-sport elite athlete with a passion for football and wrestling.
With all the demands of working and performing as a student athlete, he still finds time to be an active two sport mentor and coach. This year Jordan continued his coaching at O’Neill high school. He has also coached a minor flag football team, was a coach for the Regina High School Leboldus wrestling team and guest coached at Regina’s Martin Collegiate spring football camp.
Jordan identified a local not-for-profit agency that he has become passionate about. Carmichael Outreach, a community-based organization advocates on behalf of and provides services to people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. Carmichael fosters empowerment through dignity, respect, and advocacy, as well as engaging the community in its work to end poverty and homelessness. During the start of COVID, Jordan was an active volunteer in the meals preparation program at Carmichael, where the center saw a huge growth in its clients needing meals, especially children and youth who were unable to receive their school nourishment or lunch programs due to the closure of schools.
He was also a participant for the “Five Days for the Homeless” initiative for Carmichael Outreach. This annual fundraiser is held each year at the University of Regina in conjunction with the Business Student’s Society at the Paul J. Hill School of Business. Jordan was one of five participants who slept outside for five nights, giving up many luxuries such as cell phones, clean clothing, showers, and regular access to meals, in an effort to open the conversation about the causes of homelessness while raising funds for the day-to-day operations at Carmichael. The 2018 Five Days for the Homeless was another roaring success, surpassing their goal of $50,000. This is the most raised by any school in the nine years that Five Days has been around.
Jordan’s involvement with Carmichael also included time as a dedicated volunteer who spent countless hours painting the inside and outside of the Shelter and facilities to ensure that the necessary renovations were completed to “brighten up the days for the residents.”
Jordan is a mentor for his teammates and also for his fellow students at the University. He volunteered as a UofR Ambassador and has been a regular volunteer for the Regina Thunder Acts of Kindness Program including the production of a poster story board video entitled “No One Fights Alone.” This campaign presented three Regina Thunder Brothers, suffering from terminal illnesses with support and outreach for their fights with their respective diseases. Jordan was an active participant and organizer of this event. He has also volunteered to visit children in the hospital and has delivered game tickets to families and children fighting illnesses in our community.
Perseverance, discipline, kindness are all terms that come to mind when describing this young man. The Thunder knows he will continue to accomplish great things! He is a unanimous choice for the Regina Thunder for this award.