REGINA -- Calgary Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes was serenaded by Drake's "Started from the Bottom" as he headed to the stage to accept his award as the CFL's Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award.
"Started from the bottom, now we're here," went the refrain.
For a player ignored in the draft, it was a fitting soundtrack. Paredes recalls that three kickers went in the first three rounds.
"It really doesn't matter any more," he said, his trophy on a table next to him.
Paredes received 47-of-50 votes by the Football Reporters of Canada and the league's eight head coaches in winning the award Thursday night. Montreal linebacker Marc Beswick was the Eastern nominee.
"Coming into this league undrafted, it was very hard and tough. All I could do was use it as motivation," Paredes said.
Paredes may have got some more motivation in that his team was mistakenly etched on the trophy as the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It is slated to be fixed.
The 28-year-old from Montreal was close to perfection in 2013.
He was good on 54-of-57 field goals -- a success rate of 94.7 per cent -- and set a record for most consecutive field goals in the regular season with 39. The previous mark was 30 by Paul McCallum.
Paredes led the league in field goals made (54), points (213) and converts (49). He also averaged 63.5 yards a kickoff.
But the Stampeders' 35-13 loss to Saskatchewan in the Western final still rankles.
"It's still tough to swallow," he said in an earlier interview.
Paredes is as close to automatic as it gets in field goal kicking. He has missed just six-of-100 attempts over the last two seasons and 129 of 145 in his three-year career.
He refuses to rest on his laurels.
"When there's a lot of success you've got to work harder and that's what I did in the off-season. My goal was to get better. I'll take the same approach this off-season, get better, and we'll see what happens next year."
Asked how he follows this season, he said: "I guess go 95 per cent. And the Grey Cup. I wish I had the Grey Cup."
Paredes, however, limits his actual kicking in the off-season in his Montreal home to allow his body to recover from the rigours of the season.
He rests until January when he starts working out. He starts kicking in April, starting with a four- or five-day session with kicking guru Don Sweet.
After that, he may kick once a week or every two weeks.
"The main thing is to keep my leg strength," he said. "You don't forget how to kick. That's what you've got training camp for. Obviously you have to kick, I can't go to training camp without kicking but I don't try to tire my leg out in the off-season."
Kicking takes a toll. Paredes reckons he kicks maybe 2,000 to 3,000 balls a season.
"Your leg is tired. I felt it towards the end of the season," he said. "Not really injuries but it was bothering me."
A former star kicker for Concordia, Paredes arrived in Calgary after a couple of stints in Winnipeg's camp. He won the job after Rob Maver went down in the first game of the 2011 season and Stamps GM-coach John Hufnagel brought in Paredes and three others as possible replacements.
Paredes was the last kicker standing, making a 50-yarder in his first field-goal attempt.
Born in Venezuela to Peruvian parents, Paredes moved to Miami and then Montreal. A former soccer player, he switched to football after his high school football coach asked his soccer counterpart who had the strongest leg.
The CFL awards are sponsored by Gibson's Finest.