The Lord Tweedsmuir junior varsity football team was out on the field Friday after school, in a circle doing squats and pushups.
It wouldn’t have been an unusual sight, except for RCMP Cpl. Sebastien Lavoie shouting as the teens did their exercises.
“If we find ourselves a cheater, this whole thing is going to turn weird,” he said, looking around at the boys.
Lavoie was there with the football players as part of a collaboration between the RCMP Emergency Response Team and the junior varisty football team.
RCMP Insp. Kevin Cyr originally came up with the idea from his experience with the RCMP Emergency Response Team.
Cyr said he “saw a remarkable commonality between its members in terms of mental toughness and their ability to work in a team.”
“These were entirely teachable skills,” he said. “So I wanted to create a special experience for some young student athletes, so they could learn earlier in their life than I did, some of these lessons.”
Cyr connected with junior varsity football coach Leon Lilley over Facebook, and Lilley couldn’t wait to get on board.
“Who better to teach mental toughness than guys who are on the front line of every major emergency?” he asked.
For three hours, the football players did burpees, planks, pushups, inchworms and broad jumps around the field. They worked in teams to carry a 40-pound sandbags, and they carried each other from goal post to goal post.
In between the intense physical exercise, the players sat in the shade and listened as the team members explained how to deal with negative self-talk, use breathing to combat stress and take action using discipline rather than motivation.
While team members described the experience as “ridiculous,” “exciting” and “tiring,” they also overwhelmingly thought it was a good teaching moment.
For 15-year-old Jackson Corneil, it was a “great experience.” Corneil is a wide-reciever and outside linebacker for the junior varsity team.
“It was great bonding with the guys, showing us that we need to push ourselves to our limit all the time,” he said.
The hardest part?
“Having to carry Malik (Naherny) twice, up and down the field,” he said. “Because Malik is a big dude.”