A ROUGH RIDE: Bumpy Road groomed receivers coach Moore for football life

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REGINA — Travis Moore grew up in South Central Los Angeles; it was a tough neighborhood. Drugs. Gangs. Fights. Shootings. His older brother Gerald was shot and killed when Travis was 18. It was not easy. Already.

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Moore’s mother, Ruby, was disciplinary – watching the children, trying to avoid them. Travis’ father, John, had several jobs. An apartment building superintendent, he’d put Travis and his brother Kelvin to work on Saturday mornings and one day during the week cleaning – picking up trash and doing whatever needed to be done. The boys also drove with their father and picked up cardboard, breaking it down and putting it in the back of a truck to sell.

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There was adversity; it was a life full of lessons from the school of hard knocks. But Travis Moore persevered. Through good and evil, he wanted to make something of himself. He pushed forward and found a niche in football; first as a star player, then as a coach – a mentor to boys and men, honing not only their football skills, but also their character. What Moore has done as a star receiver (11 CFL seasons with 9,930 yards receiving and 79 touchdowns), as a coach and as someone who should put him in the conversation for a Hall of Fame spot Canadian football.

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Moore, the Saskatchewan Roughriders receivers coach since 2018 (he also coached with Hamilton, B.C., Edmonton and the Ottawa Redblacks — from 2014 to 2017), had to grow up looking forward when he was a child.

“Walking home from school, we would fight; you had to watch your back,” Moore said. “If your neighborhood was fighting with another neighborhood, you had to fight. I was a good boy. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had trouble. If something happened, I thought my mother would beat me to death. On Sundays we couldn’t go out and play sports, we went to church. It was my life. The road has been long; nothing was given to me. It teaches you that when you get something, you’ve earned it. And even when you win it, you have to keep it because everyone will try to take it back.

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Moore was probably better at basketball and baseball than he was at football as a kid. But in his late teens, his footballing friends leaned on him.

« They were like, ‘Go and play, man.’ They basically challenged me… “It’s easy to play these sports, football is where it’s at.” When you challenge me like that, it brings out something in me.

Moore played two years of football at Santa Monica Community College, then two more at Ball State. He played for the Stampeders in 1994, he was with the New Orleans Saints in 1995, with Calgary again from 1996 to 2002, then with the Riders from 2003 to 2005. In the midst of it all, he played in the XFL (San Francisco Demons) in 2001. He posted big stats in the CFL, including five seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards. In 2000, he had 1,431 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in just 16 games.

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Moore speaks for real; no sugar coating. Passionate about advancing young players, he organizes off-season camps. Players like Brayden Lenius, Kian Schaffer-Baker, Shaq Evans, Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli, Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams, Diontae Spencer, Manny Arceneaux and Geroy Simon grew and thrived under Moore’s coaching.

He has four Gray Cup rings (two as a player, two as a coach) and qualifies to be an offensive coordinator, possibly a head coach. But that didn’t happen; maybe it never will be.

« I started looking at the story, » Moore said. “As former receivers, we are tagged. You don’t see receivers becoming offensive coordinators or head coaches. When I was in Ottawa, I thought, “I’m going to have a chance, I’m going to have a chance. Now I just like coaching guys, making them better players, better men. I can’t say that I gave up. But we will see.

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As a coach, he flies under the radar – even in a city and province consumed by football and its runners. In Regina, he can go out to shop, he can sit in a restaurant – Memories Dining and Bar on Victoria Ave. is Moore and his receivers’ go-to dinner the night before a game – and go unrecognized.

« People don’t know who I am, » Moore said. “As a player you embrace those things, it comes with the territory. As a coach, I can go sit and eat and nobody knows I’m there.

The Moore kids are all on the road to success. He has two daughters – Alayah and Victoria – who are on full scholarships to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His Travis Jr. is at University Park. His Tyvon is at Chaffey College. Son Isaiah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His daughter Jasmine graduated from the University of San Antonio in Kinesiology, then earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Western States University. Two of the boys – Travis Jr. (Weyburn, Canadian Baseball League) and Tyvon (Edmonton, West Coast League) play baseball in Canada.

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« What the kids have been able to accomplish is a testament to my wife (Stephanie, a social worker), she’s been a rock, » Moore said. « She’s the one who’s been with my kids, she’s the one who takes them to activities, she’s the one who takes them to games. I can come here and coach, do something that I really love, but I also missed a lot at home. I didn’t devote much time to my children’s sports. I can’t change the past. Sometimes you have to grind; no matter where your feet are, you have to keep working. Has it ever been difficult for the family? Absolutely, it has been a struggle.

Maybe it could have been different. Maybe he could have been a different kind of father. Maybe he could have been a different type of coach. But Moore is trying to look ahead, not in the rearview mirror.

« I fought a lot, » he said. « It’s not good, but I think where I come from helps me a lot. You have to know how to adapt. I wouldn’t have succeeded as a player, as a coach or as a person without my faith. You keep your head above water and know that there is always at least some light. The weather changes a lot. You have to keep grinding. I like what I do. I love to train. »

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