What does it mean to win the Vanier Cup?
No player from the 2023 edition of the Université de Montréal Carabins can boast of having lived through this experience again. On the other hand, there are a few who, in the company of the Blue coach, had the opportunity to lift the precious trophy.
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The Carabins won their first – and only – Canadian championship in 2014. Offensive coordinator Gabriel Cousineau, recruiting coordinator Rémi Giguère and special teams coordinator Jean-Samuel Blanc were student-athletes at the time. Each in their own way played a role in this historic 20-19 victory against the McMaster Marauders.
“It’s immortality,” Cousineau said when asked what winning the Vanier Cup means to him.
Photo by: JOEL LEMAY/AGENCY QMI
“It’s the pinnacle for a college football player in Canada. Personally, he completely changed my life,” continued the former Carabins defender.
“Going all the way and winning made me realize all the sacrifices you have to make to get there. I also realized how important it is to live in the moment, because nothing ever guarantees that you’ll experience it again one day.”
Memories of Lagacé
When the Carabins triumphed in 2014, Bruno Lagacé was 16 years old. The defensive back remembers it like it was yesterday.
“In 2014 I was in high school and I played for Collège Notre-Dame Cactus. The week before (the Vanier Cup), we were at the Bol d’Or and we lost after leading 20-0 at halftime,” the veteran recalled.
“I was so proud of the Carabins’ win that I forgot my disappointment from last week. I was so proud to see my hometown team win this prestigious championship. Now I want to be one of the actors of the new conquest and make my city proud.”
Photo author: MARIO BEAUREGARD/AGENCY QMI
A mature team
Lagacé’s wish could come true this Saturday, when the Carabins face the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the Canadian grand final.
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The Quebec club will no doubt be the favorites, after destroying the Western Mustangs during the Uteck Cup. UdeM has a training program that has reached maturity. The organization’s key players are mostly from the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes, first Marco Iadeluca as head coach.
“It’s a team that enjoys playing together and works very hard,” said the driver after his team’s latest win. We had high expectations at the beginning of the season. We’re where we want to be, but it’s not over yet.”
Photo author: Photo by Martin Chevalier
“There are over 2,000 college football players in the country, and only about a hundred of them finish the year with a championship ring on their hand,” linebacker Nicky Farinaccio said. This year we have a chance to be those guys!”