Allergies prevent Ross Scheuerman from working with horses, but not from enjoying them.
Scheuerman, who on Sunday began his second season as a running back with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, since childhood has followed his family’s exploits in harness racing. Among his favourite memories is travelling with his grandfather, trainer Del Cote, to watch pacer Next Flight compete in Delaware, where he was a multiple Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund champion.
“I was around 11 years old,” the now 24-year-old Scheuerman said. “I would go with my grandparents every week. That was a pretty memorable experience for me. That horse did really well for him. He was a great horse.”
Next Flight retired in 2015 at age 14. The gelding earned $895,406 for Cote and his partners, who bought the horse for $15,000 at the New Jersey Classic Sale in 2002.
Scheuerman’s memories and experiences at the track go far beyond Next Flight. The son of Jan Cote, Scheuerman’s aunt Shannon is married to trainer Sam DePinto and his aunt Megan is married to trainer/driver Patrick Lachance. Two weekends ago, Scheuerman was at Mohawk Racetrack to watch the Pepsi North America Cup card, which included Lachance’s female pacer Penpal in the Roses Are Red Stakes. She finished fifth.
“That was awesome,” Scheuerman said about the night. “I was hanging out in the paddock area. We watched most of the races from there.
“I used to go to the barn with my grandfather when I was younger. I tried jogging horses and I ended up being super allergic to them, so I couldn’t do much. But I love going and watching the races and watching my family compete. They’ve had some good ones. It’s been fun watching them do well. Everyone supports each other, which is great.”
Scheuerman starred in football at Allentown High School in central New Jersey and Lafayette College. Last year he appeared in three games for the Ticats; two on special teams before getting to start for an injured C.J. Gable against Montreal on Sept. 16. Scheuerman made the most of the opportunity, rushing for 79 yards on 16 carries and catching five passes for 40 yards.
Unfortunately for Scheuerman, he suffered a broken wrist and missed the remainder of the season.
“It felt great to have that bit of success,” Scheuerman said. “The timing of (the injury) hurt a little bit after having that success, but it gave me some fuel for the offseason.
“I feel great this year. My body is healthy; I feel fast and strong. Everything is going well.”
Scheuerman was a conference all-star and record-holder at Allentown, where over his final two seasons he totalled nearly 3,500 yards rushing and 48 touchdowns. He also was a standout wrestler at Allentown, becoming a two-time state medalist and the program’s first 100-match winner. He ended his career with a 117-17 record.
He continued his football career at Lafayette, where he was a four-time All-Patriot League selection at tailback. He finished with 3,504 rushing yards, good for third in school history, and 31 rushing touchdowns, good for fourth. He also caught 129 passes for 1,129 yards and eight TDs.
In his final college game, Scheuerman ran for a Patriot League-record 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-7 win over archrival Lehigh before a crowd of 48,256 at Yankee Stadium.
Scheuerman signed as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May 2015, but an Achilles injury during training camp led to his release in August. Three months later, he was signed to the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad. He became a free agent at the conclusion of the season and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. After being released by the Eagles, Scheuerman inked with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
“It’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows; ultimate highs and ultimate lows,” Scheuerman said. “You’ve just got to stay positive, which is easier said than done. But I think I ended up in a great spot here in Hamilton and I’m excited for the future. I love it up here. I’ve met some great guys, lifelong friends. The fans are great and love the team.
“I think patience is the No. 1 thing I’ve learned. Just being patient and trusting my ability and knowing I belong and can compete at a high level. It’s been a journey for me.”
Scheuerman, who majored in economics at Lafayette, spent part of the past offseason doing an internship with media agency VaynerMedia in New York City before transitioning to fulltime training. The Tiger-Cats had two preseason games earlier this month and Scheuerman scored a touchdown in each.
“The first goal is always to make the team,” Scheuerman said. “Honestly, I just wanted to be in the best shape possible and be at my best to help this team reach our ultimate goal, which is the Grey Cup. Whatever way I can do that. It’s more of a pass-happy league so it definitely caters to my game. My game has elevated the past three years that I’ve been out of school and I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.