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Burnham talks smoky B.C. Lions' camp, Campbell and Claybrooks, his father, astronomy, The Wire

Star B.C. Lions’ receiver Bryan Burnham hopped onto a Zoom call with KTW editor Christopher Foulds and reporter Marty Hastings to talk about training camp, which is underway in Kamloops, and a variety of other topics.
Bryan Burnham
B.C. Lions’ receiver Bryan Burnham prepares to snag the pigskin on Monday at Hillside Stadium during a training camp session. He sits 10th all-time in Lions’ receiving yards.

Star B.C. Lions’ receiver Bryan Burnham hopped onto a Zoom call with KTW editor Christopher Foulds and reporter Marty Hastings to talk about training camp, which is underway in Kamloops, and a variety of other topics.

The transcript, which has been edited for length, is below.

Catch the video version of the interview on Wednesday, July 14, on Episode 8 of KTW’s online YouTube show, Kamloops Last Week.

KTW: What’s it like to be back in Kamloops for training camp and how has it been dealing with the smoke?
BB: Oh, man. It was really cool driving back up here, but yeah, it was kind of eerie because you’re just driving through smoke. It’s pretty bad out there. I guess this isn’t new for people in Kamloops, but I’m used to being here in May and early June. In July, it’s definitely a little different, but it’s great to be back.

KTW: Are you noticing any effects after two days of practice?
BB: It hasn’t been too bad. Last night, we practised later. We started at 7 p.m. Once the sun started to go down, it cooled off and we didn’t really notice the smoke too much.

KTW: This is your first real taste of life under head coach Rick Campbell. Last time out, DeVone Claybrooks was running the show. What are the main differences you’re noticing in their styles of running camp?
BB: It’s a little bit different. Rick is a guy who wants things run really fast and really smooth, but he’s not going to run you into the ground. He’s going to give you breaks and let your legs rest and things like that. Claybrooks was a good guy, but there was a lot of extra stuff — conditioning, running after practice, all that good stuff. Campbell is more of a guy [who says] that should be done during practise as you’re running your plays, and then when you’re done, you’re done and it’s been good so far.

KTW: That’s interesting because I think the outside perception is it was the other way around, that things might be a little more relaxed around DeVone.
BB: No. DeVone, I liked Claybrooks, but there was definitely more conditioning and practice was a little harder. It’s only been two days under Rick, so I guess the jury is still out on that, but so far, it’s been really good. You get in, get out, do what you need to do and get off your feet.

KTW: Your father, Lem, is an accomplished guy. He’s a decorated Vietnam War veteran, he played in the NFL and one game in the CFL and he is a doctor now, a psychologist. He’s also been a team psychologist. How has that helped you?
BB: It’s been huge. Ever since I started playing football at 12 years old, he always really drilled the mental side of the game. He knew the physical side would come ... but the mental aspect is a side a lot of people take for granted and don’t focus on. It was really good to have that in my corner and have that advantage of having not just a professional football player, but a professional psychologist and a guy who really knows what it takes mentally.

KTW: Can you remember a specific time he helped you with the mental aspect of the game?
BB: When I got hurt in college. I hurt my knee and it was my senior year and I didn’t know what direction I was going to go, and if I was going to play football any more. That’s something he really helped me through, just staying ready and being prepared for the opportunity when it presents itself. It took almost two years for it to present itself, but he always really harped on staying ready, being mentally ready to go, because he knew I’d be physically ready to go.

KTW: You went to the University of Tulsa and you’re a history major. Before the protests and the George Floyd death and how that brought things to light, did you know about the Tulsa Massacre? And what kind of memorials are there in Tulsa?
BB: My wife and I bought a house [in Tulsa] a couple months ago. I learned about the Tulsa race riots right when I got to Tulsa and started taking history classes there. It was a rough history and I think something they tried to bury and forget about. It came to light again this past year, in 2020. There are some memorials in that area of Tulsa, the Greenwood District, but in terms of downtown, there is not too much and I’d like to see that change.

KTW: There has been some concern around the CFL with the injuries in Saskatchewan and Montreal. How much concern is there around Lions’ camp?
BB: There wasn’t much of a concern until that stuff happened in Sask. It is something you think about, but as professionals, you have to understand your body and really pick up on what your body is trying to tell you. If things are sore and hurting, you’ve really got to take care of them. It was really unfortunate to see that happen in Sask and there was a couple guys on Montreal, but it’s not something you can really think about in practise. You’ve got to go out there and play, but you’ve got to take care of your body and that’s something we are going to focus on moving forward.

KTW: You’re interested in astronomy and you share a birthday with Michael Neander, a German astronomer from the 1500s. Neander has a crater on the moon named after him. If you had the honour of having a geographical feature named after you, which planet would it be on?
BB: Other than Earth, Mars would be pretty cool. They are exploring Mars more and more.

KTW: How did you get into astronomy?
BB: I just always have been. The sun goes down and you just look up at night and there are the stars, and there are so many questions out there. It started back in middle school for me, with my science teacher. It doesn’t take much to study. You just go out and look up at the sky.

KTW: I know you’re a big fan of The Wire. Why is it such a good show?
BB: From the casting to the characters, it just goes so deep into learning about each character and what makes them tick. That’s a great question. I wish we had more time. It just really goes into a lot of depth and the type of people they are and why they do what they do.