Mason Fine shares his Indigenous connection
- Local Journalism Initiative - Kerry Benjoe | January 05, 2024
Mason Fine’s love of football helped him connect with his own Native American heritage.
The 26-year-old quarterback born and raised in Pegs, Okla. is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
He said being born into a family of football enthusiasts he was aware of the Canadian Football League but admits his knowledge of the provinces was limited.
“I didn’t know anything specifically about Saskatchewan,” said Fine. “But I knew they loved their football.”
And that’s all he needed to know.
“Where I’m from football is king,” said Fine.
His earliest memories revolve around football.
“I had uncles that played it, in high school,” he said. “So I kind of grew up watching them, going to Friday night games and just enjoying the atmosphere.”
It was a family tradition to gather at his grandfather’s house to watch football. .
“I remember specifically watching one man by the name of Adrian Peterson,” said Fine. “He was a running back for the Oklahoma Sooners in the mid-2000s and the way he just ran the football, I just became an instant fan of him…and I was like Dad, ‘I want to play football.’ ”
He was about 10 years old and already active in baseball, basketball and track.
His dad found a nearby little league and enrolled him. The coach recognized Fine’s talent for throwing and made him the quarterback.
From that moment he knew it was what he wanted to do and trained every day to develop his skills.
“We really didn’t know what the heck we were doing, to be honest with you,” said Fine. “We went to, the OU Sooners camp and the quarterback coach at the time was Josh heel. I listened to what he was saying. At the time we didn’t have a whole lot of money to have a quarterback coach or go to all these camps.”
Fine took lots of notes and when he got home, he typed them up, printed them off and stuck the page by his bed.
“From then on, it was really just me and my dad playing catch out in the yard, but working on throwing it the correct way and just technique wise,” he said. “By the time high school came around I had pretty good fundamentals.”
Fine remains dedicated to the sport and admits he doesn’t do very much other than train while he’s in Regina, but it makes him happy.
Another thing that makes him happy is playing for a progressive team like the Roughriders.
Fine said growing up in a state where there’s a high population of Native American people, he didn’t think about his identity very often.
It wasn’t until he moved to Texas to play college football questions of his heritage came up.
“People started asking me about my ethnicity and stuff like that,” said Fine. “I was kind of caught off guard by how little or how uneducated they were about the history of the Indigenous all across North America.”
He educated himself and those around him about his heritage and culture in hopes of making it easier for others coming up behind him.
“When you’re a Division one quarterback, a lot of kids look up to you,” said Fine. “You’re a role model for other kids so, you try to go back into the community and make a difference in any way you can.”
He was impressed with the Roughriders’ commitment to Reconciliation.
“I really didn’t expect anything,” said Fine. “Once I got up here and I noticed it, it gave me a sense of pride. I was proud to be a part of an organization that had so many efforts towards (Reconciliation) whether that’s community involvement, whether that’s events…I’m grateful to be a part of the club.”
He said wearing the orange jersey to celebrate Indigenous people really helps instill a sense of pride in his own heritage.
“At the end of the day, it makes you giddy about being a part of an organization that is doing all that,” said Fine.
In 2021, he signed a three-year contract with the team.