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Features Q&A
Training and triumph: How two Waterloo Regional Police officers prepare for the Can-Am Police-Fire Games

June 7, 2024  By Brittani Schroeder

Nic Morrison (left) and Eric Boynton

Recently, editor Brittani Schroeder sat down with S/Sgt. Eric Boynton and Cst. Nic Morrison of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, who are both headed to the 2024 Can-Am Police-Fire Games, to speak about what meaning the event holds for them and what they’re looking forward to this year.

Q: What motivated you both to become members of law enforcement?

Nic Morrison: I went to university to study communication and was also on the varsity basketball team. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life after school, but once my studies were over, I became a special constable on campus.

I know many former varsity athletes who went on to be police officers, so I had many conversations with them to see what they thought of it. Ultimately, I chose to get into policing, and it’s a rewarding challenge every day. I get to help people, and that’s a big reason why I decided to do it. I’ve been a patrol officer now for five years.

Eric Boynton: Like Nic, I am an officer with Waterloo Regional Police Service, but I have been in law enforcement for 12 years. Before policing, I was in the military and worked alongside police officers during events like the G8 Summit. Through those experiences, policing aligned with the work-life balance and career I wanted. My parents were also police officers with the Toronto Police Service, so it seemed the right fit for me. Now, I’m more focused on the administrative side of policing operations.


Q: Have you both been to the Can-Am Police-Fire Games before?

Boynton: Nic and I met while training for the 2020 Games, which were, of course, cancelled due to the pandemic.

Morrison: We created a friendship during training because we were at the same gym, and from there came a relationship. Now, we’re getting married this fall.

Boynton: When the world opened again, the next Games were scheduled for 2022 in Windsor.

Morrison: We both competed in the powerlifting events, the bench press—which has its own separate medal—and the squat bench deadlift, which is a full powerlifting meet.

Boynton: We both won gold in 2022.

Q: What goes into your training and preparation for this event?

Boynton: Last year, we attended the World Police and Fire Games in Winnipeg and had someone prepare a training program for us. Throughout that process, I learned enough that I wanted to create the programming and meal plans this year.

Our sport is a little repetitive, so the training heavily relies on being in the gym, hitting the lifts you plan to in competition, and replicating the same conditions you’ll face on the big day as often as possible. You don’t want anything unusual to happen at the Games.

Nic is a fantastic cook, so she’s been using her skills to keep our nutrition up where it should be. And it tastes good, which is half the battle! We also need to ensure we’re getting enough sleep to stay on top of our game.

Morrison: Last year, we worked with a nutrition coach to cut weight to fit into our selected weight classes. I learned from the coach, and Eric and I are figuring out what works best for us this year. It’s enjoyable.

Q: How do you push each other to keep working towards this goal?

Morrison: You know, we had this conversation the other day. Eric didn’t feel like going to the gym, but I did, so I didn’t give him a choice. He does the same for me when I don’t feel like going to the gym.

Boynton: We’re very fortunate because we have multiple gyms we can utilize. One is built in our home, so we don’t have an excuse not to work out. We just need to walk into the garage, and we have everything we need.

We keep each other going, which is key to our success at these Games. I think I do better now than when I trained and competed alone.

Q: What are your hopes for the 2024 Games?

Boynton: Our goal at Worlds was to win and beat the records. This time, I’d like to know the records for the Can-Am Games and do something that hasn’t been done before. Powerlifting can be a very plain sport, and there are few surprises on the day of. We hope for the best and that the hard work we’ve put in will pay off.

Whether we win or lose is fine as long as we do our best.

Morrison: At the end of the day, you’re as strong as you are, and if there’s someone stronger than you, you can’t change that. As we train, we fight for very small increases and personal bests and hope to accomplish the same on the day of the meet. This holds us accountable because we’re not focused on others, but on ourselves and beating our bests.

Q: How would you describe the experience of attending the Can-Am Police-Fire Games?

Boynton: I remember trying to explain the feeling to Nic in 2020 when we kept training for an event that would eventually be cancelled. She asked why we were doing this, and I told her the feeling and environment of the Games are just something you can’t recreate. It’s competitive, but it’s also the most incredible sense of camaraderie, and it’s fun. It’s something you need to experience firsthand to see what I mean.

Morrison: I need to give Eric credit because I probably wouldn’t have competed if it wasn’t for him. I powerlifted through high school, but it dropped off my interest when I chose to play basketball in university. When we met at the gym, he tried to explain what the Games were like, what it was like to go and compete against other like-minded people, the feeling of camaraderie and the excitement of being there—also, just the excitement of competing again.

An older couple at the Games, who are close to 70, competed in Windsor in 2022. The husband had just suffered a heart attack and had heart surgery, but there they were. They go to every event. At that point, they didn’t care about winning or losing because it was something they did together. It kept them close to other like-minded people, even after they’d retired. I thought that was amazing, and there are many people like them out there that attend the Games.

Boynton: Powerlifting at these events is not very time-consuming. In a full powerlifting meet, you compete at most nine minutes because you get three lifts, three minutes per section of lifts. Most don’t need the full three minutes, either. So, there’s a lot of sitting around, and you get to talk with many people and see the shared humanity of these first responders from different parts of Canada or the U.S.A. You realize how similar we all are as humans.

At this event, you gain a lot of perspective about how big and small we are as individuals in this profession.

Morrison: The best part is that although no one knows each other, everyone is part of this community. Though we compete in these events, we’re all one big team. We swap shirts from our services to keep some piece of the people we meet.

Q: What are you both looking forward to most at this year’s Games?

Boynton: We’ve reached the point that we are confident in our athletic ability, so this is the first time that we get to be completely present and enjoy the experience versus having the trepidation and fear that comes with competition. Nic trusts my programming, and I’m trusting her nutrition planning, and we’re going to be in the moment when we’re there.

Morrison: I’m excited to do this again, as it’s the event that brought us together and what turned our friendship into a relationship, and now we’re getting married. It might sound cheesy, but it feels a little nostalgic. It might sound like a weird love story, a movie others wouldn’t watch, but it’s true.

Boynton: I’m also looking forward to the moment I get weighed in because after it’s over, I will eat a whole pizza, maybe a burger and French fries, and a milkshake. There’s only so much tuna I can endure!

Q: What words of advice would you share with other police officers who might be considering attending the Can-Am Police-Fire Games?

Morrison: I would say to stop thinking about it and just do it. There will always be pre-competition nerves and possibly self-doubt, but once you get there, none of that matters. Everyone supports each other in that environment; you’ll never experience it anywhere else. Everyone should do it at least once in their career because being in a room full of like-minded people who share the same career and hardships is a beautiful experience I’ll never forget. It makes you feel very proud of the job you chose. If you’re having a hard time or feeling run down, it makes you realize why you chose this path in the first place.

Boynton: Fortunately, we live in a time where first responder resilience and mental health and wellness are at the forefront. I think our minds are powerful and fragile, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life. Sometimes, having something that keeps you accountable and looking forward to something annually or bi-annually is nice. This allows us to focus on something that, in my view, is objectively good—sport. Without Can-Am and the World Police and Fire Games, I don’t think Nic and I would be as healthy and fit as we are today. This environment combines our professional passions with our sport-related passions for a positive outcome, which is fantastic.

Editor’s note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. The Can-Am Police-Fire Games are taking place in Butler County, Pennsylvania, from July 15 to 21. To learn more about the event and how to register, click here.

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