Christophe Normand and Geno Lewis emphasize education and mental health
Montreal Alouettes wide receiver Eugene Lewis was up at 6 am for a vigorous physical workout on Monday last week as he prepared for a busy day, which included meeting high school students at Laval Senior Academy that morning.
Accompanied by Als fullback Christophe Normand, the two gave the students – including members of the Panthers football team – pointers on some of the basic principles the Alouettes share with LSA, such as pride, respect, discipline and hard work.
He walks the talk
“Geno,” as fans and friends call the 6-foot 1-inch 208-pound No. 87, is known as a hard worker who consistently follows through to match actions to his words.
In college, the Philadelphia, Penn.-raised Lewis played for the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2012 to 2015. He transferred to play for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2016. He played in 51 games, starting 19 during his college career, catching 122 passes for 1,569 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Even though he had a quiet start with the Als beginning in 2017, playing only two games while catching seven passes, in 2018 (his first full season with the team), Lewis led the Alouettes’ receivers with 827-yard wins and four touchdowns, in addition to two games with wins of 100 yards or more.
Speaking from the heart
During the following two seasons, the 29-year-old became one of the Als’ starting wide receivers, playing in all 36 regular season games, while catching a combined 116 passes for 1,960 yards and nine touchdowns to his credit, leading to his being named a CFL All-Star for the first time in his career.
‘When it comes to grades and to education, it’s key, man, it’s huge,’ says Als wide receiver Geno Lewis
Speaking from the heart during his talk, Lewis, who has an impressive academic background including a degree in psychology and a soon-to-be-completed PhD, emphasized to the students, and especially the members of the Panthers football team, the importance of completing their education.
“When it comes to grades and to education, it’s key, man, it’s huge,” he said. “A lot of people don’t understand that when you get that education, when you get that paper, they can’t take that away from you.
Education ‘key,’ says Lewis
“With football and sports, a lot of that stuff can be taken away from you because you’re working for somebody else. But when you get some education and you get some degrees, no matter what you can always go anywhere, it’s got your name on it.”
Christophe Normand has been with the Alouettes since February 2019 when he signed as a free agent with the team. He had signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2018, after being drafted 33rd overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League’s 2015 draft.
The Bromont, Quebec native was a leader on special teams with the Eskimos during the 2018 season, where he made seven special teams tackles, while helping the offensive line protect quarterback Mike Reilly, and also catching three passes for 21 yards.
Mental health’s importance
In 57-career games in the CFL, the 27-year-old former player for the Université Laval Rouge et Or made 15 special teams tackles, on top of making 13 catches for 74 yards and rushing the ball 11 times for gains of 86 yards.
For his part, Christophe spoke about the growing importance for young students and athletes of mental health issues, and the need to pay as much attention to emotional or psychological problems as to physical pains and injuries.
“Having a physical pain is easy to talk about,” he said. “But talking is harder – way harder. You need to be proactive: Find a buddy, find someone who needs to talk, ask them if they’re okay.”