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Finding a home with the Stingers

by Brandon Share-Cohen November 1, 2016
Finding a home with the Stingers

Football wide receiver Vincent Alessandrini talks about leaving McGill to join Concordia

Despite this being his first season with the Concordia Stingers, Vincent Alessandrini has been one of the most exciting players to watch on the men’s football team this year. The 20-year-old Stingers wide receiver currently leads the team, with 49 receptions and 504 yards. The six-foot-one, 193-pound receiver also ranks fourth in the nation and first in the Réseau du sports étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) in receptions.

Yet, football wasn’t Alessandrini’s first choice sport. He pursued soccer from an early age.

“Initially, I transitioned to football because I was getting pretty mad about the fact that I couldn’t hit anybody in soccer,” said Alessandrini, who played double-A soccer from the ages of 10 to 14. “I was really getting frustrated—the higher you go in soccer, the more competitive it is and it just wasn’t my thing anymore.”

After signing up to play football, the difficulties of playing two sports simultaneously became apparent.

“There were times when I was changing in my dad’s car after a soccer game on the way to a football game,” Alessandrini said. “Obviously, we couldn’t do that forever and I had to choose one sport, so I chose football.”

Looking at Alessandrini success as receiver, it’s hard to imagine him playing any other position. However, Alessandrini got his first taste of football in a different position.

He started off as defensive back and then switched over to linebacker in high school because, as Alessandrini described, he was faster than the other guys on defence. In his senior year, Alessandrini asked his coach if could play as a receiver because he felt like his physique was better suited for that position.

For Alessandrini, playing receiver for only one season before joining the Vanier College team wasn’t the easiest transition.

“I felt like I hit a wall in college, having only one year of experience at the position,” Alessandrini said. ”I sat out my first year [due to injury]. I was really just observing [the receivers] to see how they play and how they get off the line. In my second year, I got the hang of it and worked really hard in the offseasons—I think that’s what paid off.”

Alessandrini eventually found his way to the Concordia Stingers, but  Concordia wasn’t his first choice. Prior to committing to play for Concordia, Alessandrini attended McGill University.

“My first language is French. I talk French at home with my mom, but I just wasn’t comfortable studying in French,” Alessandrini said. “McGill and Concordia were my only options, and I figured if I was going to get a degree, I might as well get the word ‘McGill’ written across it.”

With time, however, the pull of the Stingers organization was too strong.

Alessandrini originally committed to McGill, but decided to join Concordia before the season started. Photo by Brianna Thicke.

“After two or three weeks when I was there, I felt really out of place,” said Alessandrini. “[McGill] wanted me to start in night school. Going to class after practice was not the ideal for me—after practice, I’m drained and just want to eat and go to bed.”

The transition to Concordia was easy for Alessandrini. The Stingers organization was welcoming, and the decision was an easy one, he said.

“I felt right at home [at Concordia],” Alessandrini said. “They welcomed me with open arms. It was hard choosing McGill over Concordia because I really liked the coaching staff at Concordia. I just wanted to make sure I had a good life after football. [Eventually], I realized that it’s still a degree, whether it’s from McGill or Concordia.”

In cinematic fashion, the Stingers first game of the season was against the McGill Redmen. Not only was Alessandrini playing against the team he was previously slated to play for, he was set to play in Percival Molson Stadium in front of a crowd that would have been cheering for him. Alessandrini didn’t let that get to him—in fact, he let it fuel him to a nine-catch, 109-yard game, along with a touchdown.

“I had a lot of drive going into that first game,” Alessandrini said. ”It was my first U Sports game and I was up against a school where I was supposed to go. I was very happy with my performance, and I couldn’t ask for a better first performance in U Sports.”

Alessandrini said he is playing with a football team that he feels at home with. Understanding the importance of a support group, Alessandrini’s academic plans reflect a student looking to give back once it’s all said and done.

“I enjoy Concordia. I get a lot of academic support here and I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Alessandrini said. “It’s going really well and I’m very happy. I’m studying human relations and I want to eventually become a counselor, potentially coach a high school football team.”

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