LAMONTÉ Gaddis is no stranger to a challenge or two, and the one he is currently embarking on may prove his most difficult yet as he aims to reach the professional ranks of the rugby league world – starting at Shaw Cross Sharks.
Gaddis, 25, currently plays for the Dewsbury amateur club after the club’s head coach Brett Turner reached out to him on Twitter, inviting him to join the Sharks.
Gaddis was a trialist with rugby league’s newest club the Toronto Wolfpack, and after beating 300 other trialists in the US he travelled to England, where he was part of an 18-man squad that beat Brighouse Rangers 28-26 in December.
Unfortunately for Gaddis, he didn’t make the cut.
The Cleveland native is an American footballer by trade and was defensive captain at Towson University before he moved to Poland to play with the Gdynia Seahawks.
He then went back to America where he played indoor football for the Iowa Barnstormers.
Gaddis’ drive to succeed was clear after he was named in the NFL draft in 2014. He was not picked up by a pro club, but he stood outside the training base of the Cleveland Browns until they gave him a chance to prove himself.
The opportunity in rugby league came for Gaddis after a phonecall from Wolfpack board member Adam Fogerty inviting him to trial with Toronto.
“Adam Fogerty called me and asked how I would feel about switching from American football to rugby league and I thought why not give it a shot?” said Gaddis.
“Adam said he saw my story, but I didn’t believe it. I saw the number and thought ‘this is a UK number’, I didn’t know what it was so I didn’t answer but he left me a voicemail so I called him back.”
Gaddis has never let a challenge get in the way of his love for sport.
“Growing up in Cleveland was rough, there was a lot of drugs, a lot of violence, especially gun violence, and I lost friends,” he said.
“I just kept a tunnel vision of where I was going and didn’t want anything to take me away from that vision.”
Gaddis has settled into life in Yorkshire quickly but is still trying to get used to the accent, which at times seems like a different language to him. He said: “I’ve been welcomed with open arms, I’m learning every day about rugby league. The different culture, the different words that people use, it’s not a different language but it sounds like it sometimes.
“I’m really outside my comfort zone and I’m trying to progress with each game I play, but one of things I’m loving most about life here is the Yorkshire pudding!”
Gaddis was also keen to give his thanks to his new coach Brett Turner as well as his family who support him from his home in Cleveland.
He said: “Brett was the first person to reach out from Shaw Cross, he picked me up from the train station, even from the first training session I almost threw up three times because he pushed me to my limit.
“My family back home in Cleveland have been so supportive of me, even with the five-hour time difference they always make sure to be in contact and support me out here.”
Gaddis will only be at Shaw Cross until May, before he needs to travel home, where he hopes he can play a part in growing rugby league in America.