Football Sports

Thirteen years later, Alouettes fans rejoice once again

The Montreal Alouettes defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-24 in the 110th Grey Cup final.

The 110th Grey Cup, held on Nov. 19 in Hamilton, was a thriller. The Montreal Alouettes quarterback Cody Fajardo found wide receiver Tyson Philpot with only 13 seconds remaining to give the Alouettes the win by a final score of 28-24. This win came at the expense of the heavily favourite Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who beat Montreal in both of their regular-season matchups.

Thousands of Montreal Alouettes fans attended the team’s victory parade last Wednesday. It was the first championship parade in the city since 2010, the Alouettes’ last Grey Cup win. Following safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy’s emotional post-game speech, Quebec flags filled the Quartier des Spectacles’ Parterre, where the final celebrations took place.

The underdog mentality

“To see [the Alouettes] play this year was a model of courage and tenacity,” said Claire, a lifelong Alouettes fan. This victory is the sweetest she experienced: “…nobody thought they would win, and they did,” she said with emotion. 

Another fan by the name of René, has been getting season tickets for over ten years during the early 2000s. However he did not have a lot of faith earlier in this season. When the Alouettes won their last five regular-season games, he started believing in the team’s chances. “Even if they played a good game in Hamilton and lost, it would have been a good accomplishment. But they were able to win, so it is incredible,” he said.

The team in elation

Only one player from the 2010 championship-winning team was still with the Alouettes this year, former Concordia Stingers player Kristian Matte, and it was a special moment for the guard. “I have been playing football for 30 years. It is the first time I won a championship as a starter,” he said in an interview with The Concordian, “so for me, it is an incredible and unforgettable feeling, and we have the best fans in the world.” 

Defensive back Raheem Wilson had similar feelings and said it was the best moment in his football career. Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, the current offensive line coach and former CFL All-Star centre for the Alouettes, won two Grey Cups as a player with the team. He felt the same joy as when he had won as a player himself. “From the moment you step on the field, yes [it is the same feeling],” he said. “You’re like a kid; you feel the emotions.” 

For general manager Danny Maciocia, this win is the consecration of a stellar career. He won the 2005 Grey Cup as the head coach of the now Edmonton Elks and stopped Université Laval’s hegemony in the RSEQ as the head coach of the Université de Montréal Carabins. “It’s probably the number one [career accomplishment] on my list by far,” he said. “As a Montrealer who grew up watching the Alouettes, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Mark Weightman, the president and CEO of the Alouettes, was slightly more nuanced. “Every time you win a championship, it’s always gonna be the top, so I would put it right there with all the other rings,” he said. A Concordia alumnus, Weightman first joined the Alouettes in 1996. He worked his way up the team’s hierarchy, eventually becoming president and CEO in 2013, until he was replaced in 2016. He came back to his old role earlier this year.


Montreal Alouette Pierre-Luc Caron also serves as an emergency call dispatcher

The Alouettes’ long snapper will play his sixth season in the CFL — and his second with Montreal —  in 2022

On Jan. 21, co-news editor Gabriel Guindi and I caught up with Montreal Alouette Pierre-Luc Caron on The Starting Rotation, our sports talk radio show that airs on CJLO 1690 AM on Fridays at 2 p.m. If you missed the conversation live, here’s the abridged version of the offseason interview.

The Starting Rotation (SR): What were some of the unique hurdles that you had to overcome last season, both individually and as a team?

Pierre-Luc Caron (PLC): I had my first big injury since I started playing football when I was eight years old. I tore my pec against Ottawa, I had to get surgery and I’m still doing rehab almost every day. So that was definitely the biggest challenge for me. It’s been a busy offseason trying to get back as quickly as possible. 

As a team, I think we were a really good team, definitely better than our record showed. I feel like we didn’t fulfill our potential, but overall we’re building something great in Montreal, and there’s a ton of great players in that locker room. It’s not a big margin between a Grey Cup winning team and a team that finishes 7-7. If a few key moments go our way, maybe add a few players that could bring a change of attitude and we’re right there in the discussion. 

SR: What’s the timetable for your return from this injury? Do you expect to be ready for the upcoming season?

PLC: The doctor said I should be back to 100 per cent around mid-March. But honestly, if we had a game this week, I feel like I could play, so that’s good news. I just don’t bench as much as I used to, but that’s not a big deal for now. 

SR: The CFL terminated the 2020 season due to the pandemic. What was it like to just not play football for a year? 

PLC: Obviously, it was really tough because at the end of the day, playing football is my income. At the beginning, there was a lot of confusion, none of the players knew whether or not there was going to be another CFL season. I took the opportunity to move back to Montreal with my girlfriend, since she had a job offer. Overall, I’m happy to be back home for now. Family-wise, it’s been great. I can have dinner with my dad on a Wednesday night, which is something I wasn’t able to do when I was playing in Calgary. 

I had a lot of free time so I started working as a 911 operator, and I really liked it. I have a kinesiology degree and I felt like I could be useful in helping others outside of football. I feel like the pressure I experience on the football field helped me handle the stressful calls. Obviously, with the CFL back now, I’m really focused on my training now but I still take calls when I can. 

SR: Before you entered the CFL, you were a part of Laval’s football program for four years and played the Stingers many times over the years. Did you get a chance to watch some of Concordia’s games from this year? 

PLC: I did, and I really like what the Stingers are doing right now. I have a lot of friends that are on the coaching staff and I know things are trending upwards [for Concordia]. They even beat the [Montreal] Carabins this year so that’s a huge step, and you got a young quarterback in Olivier Roy, so the future is definitely looking bright.

SR: What are some of the other sports that you like to play, or like to watch asides from football? 

PLC: When I have the time, I really enjoy golf. When the pandemic started, I started playing more because a lot of the courses were still open in Calgary, so I took advantage of that whenever I could. I’m not great at it, but I like it because it’s relaxing and you get to spend a lot of time with your friends.

SR: What are some of your individual goals for next season?

PLC: I try not to look too far ahead. With my injury, I’m taking things day-by-day, doing rehab, training, and making sure I eat well. Honestly, I don’t have any goals right now. I just want to play every game and I know the goals are going to come once I’m healthy enough to play.


Photograph by Dominick Gravel


Are the CFL and XFL merging up?

The CFL and XFL have discussed a potential partnership

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has been hit hard financially by COVID-19. After cancelling its last season due to the pandemic, forcing many of its players to find another job, we’re still waiting to know if there will be a season this year.

The news of having a partnership with the XFL came as a surprise to fans. The XFL, which is a football league, but uses a few different rules to entertain fans and add some fun, filed for bankruptcy last year because of the pandemic.

However, a consortium, led by famous actor and former wrestler Dwayne Johnson, purchased the XFL. Since then, the league has apparently been focusing on working with the CFL to develop a possible partnership and advance their sport.

Such a partnership would mean the end of the CFL as we’ve known it for years. This would mean Canadian and American teams would play in the same league. Many rules would change, as the CFL and XFL don’t have the same rulebook. Players and coaches would need to adapt to a new game, literally. However, this doesn’t mean all CFL teams are up for a partnership, but, financially speaking, it could help CFL teams a lot, as games would be televised in the United States.

There’s still a lot to be announced on these two leagues possibly merging together. What’s sure now is that there’s a possibility that the next time we see CFL teams like the Montreal Alouettes play, it won’t be in the same CFL we knew before the pandemic.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


VIDEO: Marc-Olivier Brouillette has no beef

Former Montreal Alouettes linebacker Marc-Olivier Brouillette talks living a vegan lifestyle as an athlete in a panel discussion at this year’s Montreal Vegan Festival.

Video by Calvin Cashen


Vegan athletes break down stereotypes

When you think of a football player, a hockey player or a bodybuilder, veganism doesn’t necessarily come to mind right away. But with increased popularity, a vegan lifestyle has become more prominent for athletes.

At this year’s Montreal Vegan Festival, former CFL safety for the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, Marc-Olivier Brouillette, was the spokesperson. On Sunday, Brouillette was on the All Gain, No Pain: World-Class Vegan Athletes Break Stereotypes panel to talk about his life as a vegan athlete. Also on the panel was former NHL player Georges Laraque, nationally certified fitness trainer John Lewis, as well as wellness coaches and couple Josh Goldman and Rebecca Theofanis.

During the hourlong panel, a moderator asked questions, the first being “how long have you been vegan?” Brouillette began by saying he’s been vegan for four years, having played his last three seasons in the CFL as a vegan, and citing the 2016 season as his best ever.

“As a professional athlete, when you get to that level, everyone’s good,” said Brouillette as he explains why he made the switch to being vegan. “How am I going to find that extra edge, that’s going to make me, Marc-O. Brouillette a better football player?” After doing research and after a short period of time implementing veganism, he realized the benefits and hasn’t looked back since.

Lewis was already a vegetarian. When his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and doctors told her it was due to too much animal protein and fatty foods, he did more research and finally made the switch to being vegan. In Theofanis’s case, she made the switch after doing her research and with the aim of reducing inflammation in the body, increasing her ability as an athlete and increasing her longevity in life.

As for Laraque, he’s been vegan since 2009, which was his final NHL season. For him, the switch to a vegan lifestyle happened after seeing the documentary film, Earthlings, which asks the viewer why we, as a society, tend to value some animals above others – which the film labels “speciesism.”

The next question was where the athletes got their protein since they don’t consume animal products. For protein, a general consensus was that it can be found in everything, just not every food has the same amount. Laraque brought up a popular argument that humans need to eat meat just as animals do. The difference between us, though, is that when animals eat meat, their prey is still alive so they’re receiving all the nutrients as their body breaks down the meat. When humans eat meat, it’s already dead and processed, so we don’t get nearly the same benefits.

As for misconceptions they’ve dealt with as vegan athletes, Laraque brought up how not all vegans are necessarily healthy. Some turn vegan and don’t fuel their body with nutrient-filled whole foods, often eating meat alternatives. “The reason why I stopped [eating meat] is not to find something that tastes the same that’s actually really unhealthy,” Laraque said.

Also spoken about throughout the hour were intermittent fasting, food pairings, the amount of protein you actually need, each panelist’s favourite food and more.


Feature photo by Cecilia Piga, Video by Calvin Cashen


Brad Collinson’s journey from Stingers captain to head coach

St-Bruno native’s football career has come full circle since he played for Concordia

Brad Collinson, 39, was named the new Concordia Stingers football head coach in June 2018. However, the coach’s return to Concordia is just another chapter in his long football career.

“It was always a personal goal of mine to be the coach at Concordia,” Collinson said.

A St-Bruno native, Collinson, began his football career as a kid, under the guidance of his father who played football as well. Collinson described his younger self as a big kid who played many sports before settling on football.

The first big step in his football career was becoming a member of the Vanier Cheetahs football team in 1996. During his time at Vanier, he was scouted by National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) teams in the United States, and by Canadian universities. He accepted a scholarship for the University of Tennessee at Martin after graduating with a diploma in communications in 1998, but that didn’t last long.

“I got my DEC from CEGEP and was hoping to get my first year credited [at Tennessee Martin], which usually happens,” Collinson said. “After the tour they said, ‘No we don’t do that.’ So, I made an academic decision to come home shortly thereafter.”

Once he returned to Quebec in 2000, he joined the Concordia Stingers football team. Playing as a centre and long snapper, Collinson was named captain early on during his time with the team, and established himself as a leader both on and off the field. That hasn’t changed since, according to some of his current players, who describe him as strong and tough, but fair.  

Collinson was then signed as a free agent by the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and started every game during the 2003 season. The Alouettes won the East Division and made it to the Grey Cup, ultimately losing to the Edmonton Eskimos that year.

“That was a childhood dream,” Collinson said about playing in the CFL. “I’m a Montreal kid, born and raised, so when you get the opportunity to play for your hometown, it’s always special.”

That stellar season would end up being his first and last as a CFL player. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t my choice to step away when I got released after training camp in 2004,” Collinson said about leaving the Alouettes.

He went back to Concordia to finish his degree and became a part-time staff member for the football team, as he would be unable to rejoin the Stingers as a player due to his year in the CFL. Collinson received his degree in leisure science in 2005.

“You always want to find something that you love to do,” Collinson said. “As a leisure science student, it all related to coaching and working with individuals to help them achieve their goal. It was just a natural thing for me to come do coaching.”

The Stingers went 3-4 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Archive photo by Alex Hutchins.

In 2010, Collinson stepped away from Concordia and moved onto head-coaching jobs for U18 Team Canada and Team Quebec. He was also an assistant coach with the Université de Laval Rouge et Or, and during his time, they played in six Vanier Cups and won four.

“We’re building that winning culture here,” said Collinson about bringing his winning pedigree to Concordia. “I am trying to instill that work ethic. It’s not going to happen overnight; it’s a process that I think the kids are adapting to well.”

Most football coaches at the professional and collegiate level have played the sport at some point. Collinson made that transition long ago with success as an assistant coach and expects his past will help in excelling the program.

“I think it helps having the experience on both sides,” Collinson added. “I’ve grabbed things from each person along the way and developed my own style. I also want the guys to understand the history here and make them aware that this school is special.”

Collinson has no aspirations to coach in the CFL, so his aim and focus remain strictly on the job and what he is doing at Concordia.

“This is the age I want to work with. It’s the age where we can help them the most and get them to achieve their goals with the biggest rewards,” said Collinson. “There’s no amount of money that would make me leave here for the CFL.”

The head coach added that the Stingers are giving the players resources to develop on and off the field. He said his main focus will be making sure his players graduate.

Collinson brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the Concordia Stingers football team that could help them this coming season. With his background as a player and an assistant coach, he understands what it would take to turn this young Stingers team into a winning one. The Stingers will be seeking their first Vanier Cup appearance since 1998, and the team’s first victory in its history.

“We always have the goal to win the Vanier Cup, and if we don’t believe that, it’ll never happen,” Collinson added.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad. 

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