Community Papers

Belmont students find Lions Pride

The road to success is paved with choices, and sometimes we all need a little help finding the right way.

Members of the B.C. Lions visited Belmont secondary school on Thursday, Feb. 13 to speak to about 400 students about making positive choices and achieving goals as a part of the team’s Lions Pride program.

Wearing their trademark orange and blacks, safety J.R. LaRose, 2012/2013 All-Star linebacker Adam Bighill and 2010 Most Outstanding Rookie and 2013 West Division All-Star linebacker Solomon Elimimian strutted in to the North Gym to lay some wisdom on the young minds of Belmont.

“We’re trying to spread some positive messages to the kids: the power of choice, goal setting, teamwork, all things that we’ve learned along the way,” Bighill said. “We have a lot of fun doing it, kids enjoy it, we play a lot of fun games.”

The Lions players told personal stories of their careers, both the highlights and lowlights, in between playing some games with volunteer students, including a relay race and a tug of war contest.

LaRose spoke about missing his chance to win the 2005 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos due to being cut from the team for the choice he made, including partying. He had worked so hard to get to the CFL, he was disappointed in himself after losing that chance.

He didn’t give up though, working through severe injuries and his own choices to make his way back to the league and win the Grey Cup with the Lions in 2011.

“You’re going to stumble, you’re going to fall. It’s what you do after you fall,” LaRose said. “It’s learning from your mistakes.”

All three players said they find the school visits a really positive aspect of their job and that they’re more than happy to impart some wisdom.

“A lot of these kids are at an important age, where making the right choices and decision making will get them to what their goal is,” Elimimian said. “Bringing a positive message and helping these youngsters get to where they want to get to is even more important than us playing football.”

LaRose said he remembers Edmonton Eskimos kick returner Henry “Gizmo” Williams coming to speak to his high school class in Edmonton and how it affected him.

“I remember being in school, sitting in the stands and listening to him like ‘Well why can’t I do what he’s doing?’” LaRose said. “And that’s what it’s all about. With hard work and dedication any one of these kids’ dreams can come true.”

Senior Belmont Bulldogs cornerback Cody Wist, Grade 12, was among the crowd and volunteered to come down and participate in a pushup and sit-up contest led by the Lions.

Wist said he took a lot away from the presentation, including a minor inferiority complex.

“It was a bit intimidating, especially hearing how much they lift and bench. I thought I was strong, but definitely not now,” Wist joked. “I get where they’re coming from. I’ve had friends with the same sort of problems, like with drugs and whatnot, so I’ve had to make similar choices as what they’ve had to do.”

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