Last Thursday, the Charles Hays’ Rainmakers’ blue and green gymnasium welcomed the infamous orange and black colours of the BC Lions.
Three current members of the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) only B.C. team made the trek to Prince Rupert to perform their ‘Lions Pride’ presentation to Charles Hays Secondary School and Pacific Coast School on the last day of their week-long tour of B.C.’s north.
Arriving at the school was starting safety and defensive back Eric Fraser, a second-year Lion, who won the Grey Cup in 2008, Stephen Adekolu, a third-year wide receiver from Brampton, ON and Emmanuel (‘Manny’) Arceneaux, a sixth-year Lions’ wide receiver who led the team in receiving yards in 2015 and was a CFL All-Star.
The three players’ from the Lions Pride presentation hit on three main points for the young high-schoolers: the importance of teamwork, positive choices and setting goals.
“This is our third day up here. We were in Terrace and Kitimat and we visited a couple high schools, it was awesome,” said Fraser.
“We’re reaching out across the province because we’re representatives of the entire province, not just Vancouver [where we play]. It’s especially cool for me because I’m from the province. I was born in Duncan, raised in the Lower Mainland and I don’t think the Lions had these programs around or if they ever came to our schools.
“So it’s nice to be able to reach out and help some of these northern or smaller communities and bring our message to them,” he added.
MCing the event was Adekolu himself, who was smooth with the mic and set up three different interactive activities that showed off students’ knowledge of goal-setting, teamwork and positive choices – tug of war, a push-up and sit-up race and a relay obstacle course.
“You guys are reaching the age where you’re going to have to make some big decisions and those decisions will affect your life going forward into adulthood,” said Fraser to the school.
“When you make decisions involving violence or drugs or gangs or criminal activity, you can never be aware of the possible negative repercussions of those choices. It can multiply and come back on you.”
Arceneaux pointed to the array of Rainmakers’ championship banners and told the young spectators that each of those banners were won by individuals working as one unit.
“As you move into your profession, everything is built around teamwork. It’s impossible to achieve something on your own. It’s impossible for one individual to have all these banners. One person can’t get that done,” he said.
After the event, the three players signed autographs and posed for pictures for the kids, and Adekolu finished the ‘Lions Pride’ presentation off with a final word of advice.
“You may not know where you’ll end up, but as long as you set those goals, you may achieve something you never thought you could. Set a goal, make that step-ladder and take it one step at a time,” he said.