Ezechiel Tieide is here and ready to play

After playing in the United States since 2016, the football player has come back home

Ezechiel Tieide and his family moved from the Ivory Coast to Montreal when he was five years old. It was in 2009 when his family moved from Cartierville to Lachine, that Tieide’s love for football blossomed into a lifelong passion. Now, after playing in the NCAA, the receiver will be playing with the Concordia Stingers this upcoming season.

Although he was only in grade four when his family moved in 2009, he already knew he wanted to play football. He was only able to start the following year, at 10 years old.

“I saw some kids play football [at the Dalbé-Viau High School],” he said. “I went and asked them if I could play.”

Growing up, Tieide also played soccer, basketball, and track. Despite soccer being his initial pastime, Tieide didn’t see himself pursuing that sport professionally. Keeping busy in multiple sports was integral to Tieide, making him adapt to an active lifestyle early on.

“Every season I was doing something, it was keeping me busy and away from trouble,” he added.

Stingers receiver Ezechiel Tieide in the Dome. Maria Bouabdo/ The Concordian

After completing his high school education in Montreal, Tieide decided to go to the United States, where he attended St. Paul’s School, a college-preparatory boarding school in New Hampshire.

Tieide then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management at Boston College, in Massachusetts. After that, he transferred to the University of Toledo in Ohio to study communications, but ultimately he decided to come back to Montreal after a year there.

Tieide is now taking independent studies at Concordia University, where he will be playing as a wide receiver for the Stingers.

The football player started as a receiver, and then moved to quarterback from grade eight up until university, where he moved to the other side of the ball and played as a cornerback for two years. He went back to playing as a receiver in his junior year at Boston College.

Tieide felt like there were more opportunities in Montreal, which is why he decided to come back home for his final year of eligibility playing university sports.

“I felt like I had more opportunities to showcase, or get on the football field, back at home,” he said. “Football is really [about] opportunities. Sometimes you can be really good and then it doesn’t go like you want.”

Stingers head coach Brad Collinson had coached Tieide when he played for Team Quebec in the 2015 Football Canada Cup.

“I feel like Coach Brad will give me the opportunities that I need for me to go play at the next level,” Tieide explained. “I’m not saying that in the U.S. it wasn’t possible, but I feel like here I could show it more.”

Collinson is also looking forward to having Tieide join the team, stating it’s fun to reunite with a player he’s previously coached.

“We know each other already,” he said. “There’s a relationship that’s been built over the years so it’s always fun to get guys like that on your team.”

Although Tieide was playing as a quarterback for Collinson’s Team Quebec, the coach still remembers what stood out about his young player.

“He was a good athlete, somebody that really liked the game of football and wanted to get better,” Collinson said. “He always had a good attitude. He’s a competitor, that’s something that stood out at a young age.”

Collinson is looking forward to seeing his new recruit in action.

“We have a very good receiver group so hopefully he can help us [and] make us better. […] He’s a very athletic kid who has a lot to offer,” he added.

Tieide is going to be seeing even more familiar faces on the team, including safety Dawson Pierre whom he played against in high school, and quarterback Xavier Tremblay, a transfer from the University of Laval.

Tieide practicing with quarterback Xavier Tremblay. Maria Bouabdo/ The Concordian

Tieide and Tremblay have known each other for about six years now, after participating in quarterback camps together. They both look forward to playing on the same team.

“I want to feed him up [pass to him], I’d like to throw him the ball as much as possible because I know he can be a playmaker on the team,” said Tremblay. “I know he wants to play professionally and it’s his last season [at this level]. And I think he can achieve it if we take advantage of him, his size, and he’s athletic, so he’s a nice asset for the team as a receiver.”

Indeed, with the plan to play professional football, Tieide’s expectation for his last year of university football is “to score a lot of touchdowns.”

“I’m going to earn everything that is given to me. I work, I work a lot, so I want to show people what I can do,” he said.

However, Tieide’s also had to overcome a lot in his football career. He said that his biggest challenge so far was remaining patient.

“When something doesn’t go like you want, you got to stick by the book, stick with the program until the season is done,” Tieide said. “But during the season, when something doesn’t go like you want, it’s hard.”

Dedicating a lot of time to something while not getting the results he wanted was difficult, especially when he was working on it every day from 6 a.m. to noon.

“Sometimes it’s stuff that you can’t control, it’s a higher power than you, so it’s like ‘alright, just one day at a time,’” he continued. “But I’m glad, I got better every day. There’s the good, and there’s the bad, but I got better every day.”

On top of being a student and an athlete, the 23-year-old also coaches basketball at his old high school, where his brother Elom now plays football as well.

“I’m just trying to get involved, I’m trying to help the kids because they’re the future,” Tieide said. “Dalbé-Viau high school is a hotbed for talent. There’s a lot of kids over there, a lot of immigrants, they’re not really from here, but they have insane athletic abilities. […] All they need is to see someone that did it. You don’t have to be a bum, you don’t have to be a gangster, you don’t have to do nothing crazy. Just stick to the books, play sports, you’re going to have a good life.”

If he could give any advice to children or teenagers who are trying to make it in football, here’s what Tieide would tell them:

“Don’t overthink too much, don’t put too much on your shoulders,” he said. “Just play football, and the coach is going to like you for that. They’re going to like you for being yourself and the type of player that you are. You don’t have to put up a front, just be yourself. And then if things don’t happen like you want, there’s a better plan. Nothing happens for no reason. I feel like God has a plan for all of us.”

No matter what level you play at, Tieide said to just play the best season of your life, whether it’s in high school, CEGEP, or U Sports.

“If you’re good they’re going to find you. It doesn’t matter against who you do it. It’s the fact that you can do it. So just ball out.”


Colour Commentary: The allure of college sports

The NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship was last Monday and it was not exactly a game that will be remembered as one of the best matchups.

As a Bengals fan it was incredibly exciting to watch Joe Burrow tear up yet another top defence in the Clemson Tigers, throwing for 463 yards and five touchdowns.

But I digress.

Forgetting about the evil organization that is the NCAA, the players themselves are so amazing to watch; the sheer emotion and passion being evoked by them.

For most of the players in the final, it was their last chance to play in a primetime sports game with millions upon millions watching them. It’s why the wins are that much sweeter and the losses are that much harder to swallow.

According to the NCAA’s statistics, only two per cent of division one football players get drafted to the NFL. That number does not include actually getting a contract or playing time. The odds of making it as a pro are very slim.

Personally, watching college sports is a reminder of the dedication that so many put into the sports they love. For many players, it is a culmination of the early morning practices, long road trips and heavy enrollment costs to play amateur sports.

Forget the NCAA—the same holds true for university sports across Canada as well. I’ll never forget when the Concordia Stingers were eliminated by the Queen’s Gaels in the 2018-19 OUA East Division playoffs. It was captain Philippe Hudon’s last game as a Stinger.

When the Gaels scored their overtime series clinching goal, Hudon’s tears immediately started to flow. I could only imagine what was going through his head at that moment.

The amount of sacrifice that goes into a student athlete playing for their school is quite astonishing. After the University of Connecticut Huskies won the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, Shabazz Napier, the team’s point guard, said in an interview with Fox Sports that he had had a lot of hungry nights.

This is why so many people love college sports. Yes, the NCAA is a disgusting organization; it cannot be said enough. The players’ stories resonate with so many and show us how much they sacrifice to play a game they love.

Watch some highlights of either college football or basketball national championship finals, and take a look at the players’ faces. That’s how much sports mean to them.


Growing from the success of March Madness

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers had gained popularity since Final Four appearance

Any Concordia student who watched the 2018 March Madness—the national tournament for university men’s basketball in the United States—probably remembers the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers for its similarities to Concordia. Their maroon and gold colours replicate those of the Stingers, and like Concordia’s Loyola College, Loyola University Chicago was also founded by Jesuits.

Head coach Porter Moser (centre) celebrates the Ramblers’s appearance in the Final Four. Photo by Hanako Maki / Loyola Phoenix.

Despite the connections between the two schools, what the Ramblers did on the court is what they will be remembered for the most. They upset everybody as an #11 seed in the South Region to make the tournament’s Final Four, before losing to the eventual finalists, the Michigan Wolverines.

“There are days when it doesn’t feel real,” said Loyola Phoenix sports editor Nick Schultz, who has covered the team since the 2016-17 season. “I’m from a town of about 4,000 people in central Illinois, and there I was in the Alamodome in San Antonio [for the Final Four] with 70,000 of my closest friends. It was wild.”

The Ramblers, who won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) championship last year and played in their first March Madness tournament since 1985. Being in a city like Chicago, with one team in the NHL, NFL, and NBA, plus two teams in the MLB, the Ramblers lack coverage from mainstream local media.

“I was the only one there every game last year,” said Schultz, who saw the Ramblers’s popularity grow throughout the season. “Then the Chicago Tribune started coming when Loyola beat the number five team in the country [Florida Gators] in December. Then they started winning through conference play and the Chicago Sun-Times started showing up, then all the TV stations, then ESPN. It was weird seeing the evolution.”

Once the Ramblers got to the national tournament in March, one person was stealing headlines, and it wasn’t a player. Jean Dolores Schmidt, known as Sister Jean, is a 99-year-old team chaplain for men’s basketball. She travelled with the Ramblers throughout last spring’s tournament and offered her support.

“We know how special she is and how much she means to our program,” said Bill Behrns, the assistant athletic director of communications. “It was great to let the world know how much she means and everything she brings to the university. She’s a truly special individual with an unbelievable passion for life.”

Sister Jean was on hand to witness the Ramblers’s unbelievable finishes to their first two games in Dallas, Texas. In their round of 64 match-up against sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes, after Miami missed a free throw with less than 10 seconds left, the Ramblers were still down a point. Instead of going for an easier two-point shot, guard Donte Ingram made a three-point attempt to win the game with no time left.

Clayton Custer (on the ground) watches his game-winning shot go in against the Tennessee Volunteers. Photo by Ralph Braseth / Loyola School of Communication.

Two days later on March 17, 2018, the Ramblers played the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Ramblers moved on to the next round, the Sweet 16, after Clayton Custer’s shot with three seconds left took a lucky bounce off the rim to fall in.

Schultz and the other staff members of the Loyola Phoenix had to quickly plan to cover the next rounds in Atlanta, Georgia. “It was the first NCAA [National Collegiate Athletics Association] tournament game any of us had ever been to, let alone covered,” Schultz said. “It was a unique experience to be there for that buzz-beater [Ingram’s three-pointer], and that’s when we looked at each other and realized this could be a thing.”

When the Ramblers returned to the university after their upset wins, Behrns saw a different morale amongst the students. “The good thing for us was to see the amount of school spirit and pride people had on campus,” he said. “It was something we had struggled with for a while, so that was fantastic. It was good to see people wear Loyola gear for the first time in a long time.”

The Ramblers went on to beat the Nevada Wolf Pack in the Sweet 16 on March 22, 2018 and the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight to clinch their spot in the final weekend in San Antonio, Texas. There, they lost to a strong Michigan team, but it was a magical run that will forever live on in the school’s history.

“During the run, what the country saw and what the world saw from our players and staff, that was genuine,” Behrns said. “That’s really how those people are on and off the court; it wasn’t an act or anything that they were putting out there.”

Since last year’s March Madness, Schultz has seen his school’s popularity grow nationwide. He said he’s talked to first-year students, who aren’t necessarily basketball fans, but had heard about the team’s success.

When head coach Porter Moser joined the Ramblers prior to the 2011-12 season, he wanted their home court, Joseph J. Gentile Arena, to be loud every game.

“At that point in time, when he said that, we laughed at him, because they [weren’t] going to sell out and Loyola is not a sports school,” Schultz said. “They just had their sixth sellout of [this] year, and they never had six sellouts in a year. Because of the attention they got in the Final Four, people are coming to games.”

With new recruits coming in, the Final Four appearance will help the Ramblers in the long run. Schultz said Moser is considered a top recruiter, but national exposure motivates high school players to play at Loyola.

“It gets your foot in the door with recruits,” Behrns added. “Now people know who we are; they know our brand and our style of play.”

The Ramblers lost in the semi-final of the MVC championship this past weekend and will not play in this year’s NCAA tournament. But their magic from the 2018 March Madness will live on forever.

Main photo by Hanako Maki / Loyola Phoenix.


Stingers split with St. Thomas Aquinas

Concordia men’s basketball gets a win and a loss against a New York team

The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team hosted the St. Thomas Aquinas College Spartans from Sparkill, N.Y. in a pair of games on Sept. 1 and Sept 2. The Spartans took game one winning 95-85 while the Stingers took game two with a 81-72 victory.

Game one

The Stingers struggled in the early part of the game as the Spartans took a 4-0 lead. The Stingers got their first basket of the game on a three-pointer by guard Mikee Dosado which gave the Stingers momentum. Concordia ended the first quarter ahead 25-19, thanks to three-pointers by several players including two by forward Ken Beaulieu. Beaulieu finished the quarter with 10 points.

The Stingers started the second quarter strong and hit their first few shots. With just under eight minutes remaining in the quarter, the Stingers had a nine point lead. The Spartans tied the game at 36 with two minutes left and then took a 47-42 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Stingers fought their way back and were close to tying the game. However, deep into the third quarter, the Stingers players hit a cold streak and were unable to make their shots. The Spartans took advantage, taking a 13-point lead. By the end of the quarter the score was 70-60 in favour of the Spartans.

In the final quarter, the Stingers could not keep up with the high-powered offense of the Spartans. With five minutes left in the game, the Spartans led by 17 points. The Stingers got a few late baskets by guard Rowan Power to cut the deficit down to 10.

The Spartans scored 22 points off of Concordia’s turnovers.

“Defensively it was a pretty poor game,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic. “We turned the ball over too much. We had some good moments but our youth showed today.”

Game two

For the majority of the first quarter, both teams took turns scoring and the game was tied. It was a three-pointer by Dosado late in the quarter that propelled the Stingers into the lead. After the first quarter, the Stingers led 17-16.

To start the second quarter, the Spartans scored two early baskets to take their first lead of the game. The Stingers eventually retook the lead with three minutes left in the quarter. The Stingers hit three consecutive three-pointers by with duo Dosado and guard Nicholas Noble. Noble finished the first half going three for four from the three-point line. The Stingers went into halftime leading 37-34.

The third quarter started well for the Spartans, as they tied the game at 39.The Stingers maintained a five point lead throughout the quarter and went into the final frame up 62-57.

In the fourth quarter, the Spartans cut the Stingers lead to just three points with 40 seconds left. Beaulieu came up big in the final moments for the Stingers, as he hit a basket and then grabbed a steal which led to a slam dunk to end the game.

“[I] thought we played much better today. The guys corrected some of the mistakes we made yesterday,” Popovic said. “I thought we had some great moments but we made some costly mistakes where [the Spartans] made some big shots.”

“It was a hard fought game and the other team has a high-tempo offence which is something we weren’t used to,” said Stingers point guard Ricardo Monge. “But we got the win and that’s all that counts.”

These two matches against the Spartans were their final exhibition games against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) opponents. They finished with a record of 3-2.

“In all of the games we played, we were very competitive,” Popovic said. “I think CIS basketball is very good at this time and teams across country have done well against NCAA schools.”


In March it’s NCAA all the way

Graphic by Katie Brioux

The weather is starting to warm, the kids are finishing March break—for a sports fan it can only mean one thing: it’s time to fill out brackets.

Each year, millions of people fill out their NCAA basketball brackets in anticipation of one of the premier sporting events of the season.

Even in Canada, this distinctly American event is the main topic around water coolers across the country. What few people realize, though, is that the CIS stages a tournament with a similar format to the NCAA. The difference between the two is that while the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is a highly-anticipated, money-generating machine that airs on national networks, the CIS tournament passes in relative obscurity and requires hiring a private investigator to find the games on television or the Internet.

The question is why?

Undoubtedly, the NCAA is a higher-quality game at the top of the brackets. However, several CIS teams, Concordia included, play preseason games against NCAA Division-I opponents and the games are often very competitive, with CIS teams winning a fair amount. So while Canada may not have premier programs like North Carolina and Kentucky, the quality of CIS basketball is definitely watchable.

It could also be argued that name recognition plays a factor, but for every Duke or Kansas in the NCAA tournament, there is a Murray State or Gonzaga. Which school do you think Canadians could tell you more about between Carleton or Wichita State?

Likewise, most Canadians hardly watch any NCAA basketball during the regular season, so with the exception of a few premier prospects, NCAA basketball players are just as unknown to the average Canadian viewer.

Concordia men’s basketball coach John Dore has been at the school for 22 years and made 12 appearances in the national championship tournament and believes the lack of attention to the CIS tournament is due in part to national insecurity.

“It’s the Canadian inferiority complex,” said Dore. “Everyone just assumes everything south of the border is better. The programs down there have all the bells and whistles and more money so everyone just flocks to that.”

Perhaps the biggest draw to the NCAA though has nothing to do with quality of play or notoriety of schools and players involved. It really comes down to one thing: The Bracket.

The format of the NCAA tournament is just really, really fun. It is simple and allows anyone—from the college hoops fanatic who can tell you the name of Norfolk State’s coach’s dog to an 81-year-old woman who thinks Duke is the new rapper her grandchildren enjoy—to make predictions and have the same chance of winning whichever pool or friendly bet they may be involved in.

The fact that the NCAA tournament also features 64 teams, opposed to eight in the CIS tournament, is a huge advantage. You can design an office pool knowing that everyone’s bracket will be different. It also leaves more opportunity for the always marketable “Cinderella Story.” Sure, the final four teams remaining in the NCAA are usually the higher seeds in the tournament, but the fact is that no matter how good a team is, they can have their season completely uprooted because Insert-Name-Here State’s point-guard played the best game of his life.

In Canada the stories are not as compelling. The few number of schools in the CIS limits the tournament’s capacity. As a result, only the top eight schools in the country make the tournament so there is no true sense of an underdog that came out of nowhere. If the best two teams win their first-round games, any possibility of even a marginally compelling underdog story is out the window. Also, the tournament takes place in just one weekend (compared to the three-week marathon down south) so it is hard to get attached to any team in particular or get to know the players.

As enjoyable as CIS basketball can be to watch, the fact remains that no matter how the league is marketed or how much the quality of play improves, Canadians will always prefer to watch Duke vs. North Carolina over any other Canadian university matchup.

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