With defensive schemes and special teams’ papers scattered across his coffee table, and game tape on his laptop nearby, it’s clear that Stingers defensive end Eric Noivo is ready to make an impact.
Heading into his fourth and final season as a Concordia Stinger, Noivo will be the first to say that hard work, dedication, and tenacity got him to where he is today.
Growing up in the West Island, Noivo started playing football in high school for the Lakeshore Cougars. Although he didn’t see much of the field for his first three years, he stuck with it. By the time Noivo was in Bantam, he realized his potential and helped lead his team to the provincial finals, only to lose in overtime.
“It’s funny to think that I started out in Peewee as a 100-pound defensive back who didn’t really play much,” said Noivo. “Once kids started to play different sports, roster spots opened up and I began to improve.”
In CEGEP, Noivo attended John Abbott and played for the Islanders. It was there he realized football could help further his education and open doors for him, but only if he put in the necessary work.
“Playing for your town …] players just show up to practice and game day so I didn’t take it seriously,” said Noivo. “So going into my first training camp, I wasn’t where I wanted to be physically.”
Noivo’s game took a step back after suffering a torn MCL in his knee after just four games into his first season with the Islanders, causing him to miss the rest of the year. But after two more seasons with John Abbott, Noivo entered his first year at Concordia ready to prove himself. However, the jump to the university level was a lot harder than he had anticipated.
He did not dress for a game in his first season, but continued his strong work ethic and got ready for next season’s training camp.
“I had worked out a lot and put on twenty pounds during the off-season,” said Noivo. “Then I had a really strong camp and this time I knew I was one of the best players out there.”
Despite his hard work, Noivo wasn’t invited on the team’s annual pre-season road trip for the second year in a row.
“When I didn’t dress for the exhibition game again, that crushed me,” said Noivo. “I had dedicated so much of my time and didn’t even get a chance.”
Although it got off to a rocky start, Noivo’s second season would become a turning point in his Stingers career. After a couple of strong practices on the scout team, Noivo dressed for a game against McGill University.
“You can practice all you want but there’s nothing like the feeling of playing a game,” said Noivo. “All that work was worth it.”
Last year, under the new defensive line coach and special teams coordinator, Shawn Mayne, Noivo thrived. With a new coach, players were at a level playing field and Noivo took advantage of the opportunity. He started four of the nine season games, dressed for all of them, and recorded three and a half sacks in the process. Noivo’s perseverance was finally being rewarded and his coaches took notice.
“I have had the opportunity to see Eric grow as both a football player and a young man,” said Stingers offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Bryan Chiu. “As a coach, our greatest satisfaction is in seeing young men like Eric grow throughout his time at Concordia.”
Noivo was named a team captain at the end of training camp this year and hopes he can be a role model for the younger players.
“In football, everyone talks about height, weight, strength, and speed. The one thing that you can’t teach is heart,” said Chiu. “Eric is a perfect example of that.”