We were very happy to hear several different stories over the past few weeks which spotlighted the amazing contributions former Cheetahs athletes continue to provide in their careers after leaving Vanier.
By Denis Lafontaine, Vanier Athletics Webmaster
FOOTBALL ALUMNI PLAYER AND COACH NEWS
VANIER CUP: Former Cheetahs star quarterback Hugo Richard has continued to enjoy tremendous success with the Université de Laval Rouge et Or. In the university league semi-final Uteck Bowl on November 17th, Richard led his team to a dominating 63-0 home victory over the visiting St. Francis Xavier X-Men of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, thus advancing to the Vanier Cup finals. Hugo completed 22 of 27 passes for 327 yards and 5 touchdowns in the game. See one of his TD tosses in the following video. Just click here.
Earlier on November 21st, Hugo Richard won the the Jeff Russel Trophy (for RSEQ MVP) for the second consecutive season and the third time of his amazing career. The Rouge & Or pivot led the RSEQ with 2,185 passing yards and 18 touchdown passes. He also led the conference with an average of 273.1 passing yards per game. Richard also set a pair of RSEQ records along the way, including his 70 career TD passes shattering the previous mark of 68 held since 2015 by the Vert & Or de l’Université Sherbrooke’s Jeremi Roch (another Vanier Cheetahs alum). Richard also became the first player in league history to throw over 60 touchdown passes and also rush for 30 TDs. It was later announced at the annual Vanier Cup gala awards banquet that Hugo was a finalist for the Hec Crighton Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding player in Canadian university football as well as quarterback for the 2nd All-Star offensive team (indicating he was 2nd in the voting just behind the winner, Calgary Dinos QB Adam Sinagra). Other former Cheetahs honoured at the national awards ceremony were ULaval linebacker Brian Harelimana and Ottawa cornerback Jamie Harry who were both named to the 1st All-Star Defensive team, a tremendous accomplishment. Another ex-Cheetah honoured was Concordia’s Peter Regimbald, who was Vanier’s head coach in the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He received the Gino Fracas Award as the Assistant Coach of the year, as selected by Football Canada.
Besides Hugo Richard, other former Cheetahs playing for the Rouge et Or in the Vanier Cup included Zack Fitzgerald, Kean Harelimana, Clément Lebreux, Étienne Moisan, Alexandre Savard, and Marc-Antoine Varin. As well, Cheetahs alum Grégoire Bouchard played for the opposing Mustangs from Western University in the Vanier Cup final match which was held in Québec City on Saturday, November 24th. Things started well for Laval with Richard throwing a 46-yard TD toss on just his 2nd pass of the game. The Rouge et Or built up a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and they held a 17-13 lead at the half. Then Laval really took charge and drove their home crowd into a frenzy building up a solid 34-13 lead by the end of the 4th quarter. Western scored a touchdown with 2 minutes left in the game, but it was clearly too little too late and the Rouge et Or held on for the dominant 34-20 victory. For the second time in his career, Hugo Richard was named as the Vanier Cup Offensive MVP. In the game, he completed 23-of-31 pass attempts for 348 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for 60 yards, scoring a TD himself. Congratulations to you all for a well-deserved National Championship win!
2018 FOOTBALL CHEETAHS SIGNED:
We found out that star Defensive Back Kaylyn St-Cyr from this year’s Cheetahs team has signed with the Université de Montréal Carabins for their 2019 season.
He will have many former Vanier players as teammates since ex-Cheetahs playing for the Carabins in the 2018 season included Mathieu Boucher-Piement, Bénédicte Cayo, Ryth Jean Giraud, François Hamel, Brian Harelimana, Claude Adler Joseph, Redha Kramdi, and Jordan Perrin. Also, ex-Cheetah Byron Archambault, who was one of the finalists for CFL Rookie of the Year in 2015, is on the Carabins coaching staff where he is Special Units Coordinator and Linebackers Coach. Congratulations, Kaylyn! For more on his signing, just click here.
As well, we learned that star running back Kevin Foster Verdier has been signed by the Concordia Stingers in an announcement made by Stingers head coach (and… you guessed it, former football Cheetah) Brad Collinson.
Kevin was not just Vanier’s leading rusher in the 2018 season, he also led the entire league with a whopping total of 971 yards on 159 carries.
To read more on Kevin’s signing, just click here.
The first signing we heard of was that of Offensive Lineman Julian El Hajj who was picked up quickly by the McGill Redmen in an announcement that was made on October 5th. He has been a starting tackle and guard ever since his rookie season with Vanier.
Julian has excelled at Vanier both on and off the field. He was an academic all-star in 2016 and 2017 as well as a league all-star in 2017. He is looking forward to learning from the team’s offensive line coach Marc Glaude (yes, ANOTHER ex-Cheetah) during Julian’s years at McGill.
To read more on his signing, just click here.
GREY CUP NEWS:
Two former Cheetahs, Justin Howell and Jean-Marc Edmé, were on the roster of the Ottawa Redblacks in the Grey Cup match VS the Calgary Stampeders which was held on Sunday, November 25th at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. The Stampeders prevailed for the 27-14 championship win. Previously in the semi-final match against Hamilton, Justin had six tackles for Ottawa in their 46-27 win over the Ti-Cats. Ex-Cheetah Jean-Marc Edmé is the Director of Player Personnel for the Redblacks.
Also, former Cheetahs player Ben Major, who has been a CFL Official for the past 14 seasons (240 games) participated in his 6th Grey Cup game. Ben’s position puts him right in the heat of the action, and all those flying bodies can prove a real threat, as seen in this story on Ben from 2014 after he received a pretty gruesome facial injury stemming from an accidental kick from the errant foot of Alouettes’ Kyries Hebert. Click here for the full story.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ALUMNI COACH NEWS
We were extremely happy to hear that former Lady Basketball Cheetahs Head Coach Chantal Vallée has just been named as only the 2nd woman EVER in North America to act as head coach of a men’s pro team, and she is the first to hold both the head coach and general manager positions of a Canadian men’s professional basketball team. It was announced that she will be coach and general manager for the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
After leaving Vanier in 2004, Chantal joined the University of Windsor Lancers women’s basketball program as head coach. When she started with them, the Lancers had had a losing record for quite a few years prior, but Chantal turned the team around within a few short years. In her first year the team had a record of 9-13 in 2005-06, but by 2008-09, the team’s record had improved to a stellar 21-1 under Chantal’s guidance. Then from 2010-11 to 2014-15, the Lancers pulled off a phenomenal 5 straight National Championships. Congratulations, Chantal! Read more about her ground-breaking appointment. Just click here. You can also see a great 7-minute interview with her in French from the RDS website about her new position with the Hamilton Honey Badgers. Click here to watch it.
MEN’S BASKETBALL ALUMNI PLAYER NEWS
Former Vanier star player Tevonn Walker is enjoying a tremendous amount of success playing in a professional league in Germany for the Hamburg Towers. After sustaining an injury early in the season, he seems to have made a full recovery and is now showing something close to the full measure of his incredible talent. The following profile on him includes video footage, and when the camera cuts to his interview section, he is clearly seen to be wearing a Cheetahs shirt. Way ta go, Tevonn!