The Gleaner

Montreal Alouette shares life lessons with CVR students

Yutong Miao

Recent snowstorms didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm when students at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School gathered in the auditorium on Feb. 13 to welcome Bo Banner, a Montreal Alouettes football player, who spent the morning giving an inspiring speech as part of the Together at School program.
Launched by the Alouettes in 1998, Together at School is a community outreach program for high school students in the Montreal area and surroundings, the main goal of which is to encourage students to stay in school. Speakers focus on a wide range of challenges that are part of students’ reality, including time management, handling pressure, striving for consistency, and the importance of academic perseverance. To be best equipped to help the students, each player participating in the program has undergone specific training from specialists in the field of mentoring and counselling, aiming to inspire and motivate the students they meet to make better choices in school as well as other aspects of their lives.


Montreal Alouette Bo Banner offered inspiration and insight to students at CVR on Feb 13 as part of the Together at School program which was launched by the CFL franchise in 1998 PHOTO Yutong Miao


Everyone has a battle to fight, even tough-as-nails football players. A Vancouver native, a graduate of Central Washington University, and a defensive player who started to play professionally for the Alouettes two years ago, Banner shared his own experience. He recounted his journey from being a high school student who struggled with his studies and paid little attention to grades, to becoming a college athlete receiving a full athletic scholarship and later an academic one, and then on to a professional football player working hard to pursue his passion and thrive in his career. In a humorous and persuasive manner, Banner told the story of how, in the final year of high school, after realizing the importance of academic performance in gaining admission to university, even for athletes like him, he managed to achieve a huge improvement in his marks with extra hard work, which allowed him to continue his athletic journey in university with a scholarship. He further explained how, in order to improve his physical capabilities to the level required of a professional player, he made time in his busy schedule to practise his athletic moves constantly during his part-time working shifts as a security guard. Speaking of the struggles that he went through, the lessons that he learned, and the achievements that he made throughout his personal journey, he encouraged the students to work hard to the best of their potential, finding a balance between their academic work and their personal lives, leading to more opportunities in the future.
The speech was followed by a Q&A session and ended with Banner taking photos with and signing autographs for the students in a cheerful atmosphere. Although the students aren’t all shaped like football players and have different passions and goals in their lives, the lively interaction between Banner and the students gave no doubt that they all could identify with the player who, just like them, had to overcome fears in difficult situations and pursue dreams with hard work and dedication.
For more than 20 years, the Alouettes have been sharing words of encouragement with tens of thousands of students in more than 2,000 school visits. This year, in partnership with 13 school boards in Quebec, the team plans to visit close to 60 schools in different regions until April, continuing its mission to make a positive impact on the young generation.

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