Benjamin St-Juste Aims to Increase Quebecers in the NFL

Benjamin St-Juste Aims to Increase Quebecers in the NFL

BROMONT – Between two tackles in the uniform of the Washington Commanders, Benjamin St-Juste gave himself a new mission: to help increase the number of Quebecers in the NFL.

The 26-year-old athlete, involved with the L’Originale Foundation, shared his dream with the many guests who came to the first edition of the organization’s golf tournament, Monday, at Domaine Château-Bromont.

“We must have more players in the NFL, we have this mission to open doors for future generations of Quebec athletes,” said St-Juste.

A little further away, imposing lineman Matthew Bergeron of the Atlanta Falcons bobbed his head up and down in approval. Mathieu Betts, who is trying to establish himself with the Detroit Lions, also showed agreement.

Giving back to young people

Originally from Rosemère, in the Basses-Laurentides, St-Juste considers himself privileged, hence his desire to give back.

Encouraged by his father Wilbert and his mother Louise Valiquette, the young boy saw his life change in 2015, when he enrolled in a football camp with the Wolverines at the University of Michigan, in Ann Harbor. He was then 17 years old. It was at this time that the famous coach Jim Harbaugh encouraged him by saying he saw in him qualities similar to those of Richard Sherman, former star player of the Seattle Seahawks.

“From there, it changed my life,” agrees St-Juste.

Back to the Origin

The Quebecer knows very well that not all young people have the means to go to the United States to have such an experience. This is why, through the foundation, he is organizing the “Return to the Origin” camp on July 6 at the Curé-Antoine-Labelle secondary school in Laval. The event is aptly named, because it is there where he himself defended the colors of the Wolves.

“When I was growing up, I saw that there was a lack of opportunities, whether resources or football camps where we can learn and at the same time show our talent as a young Quebec athlete,” said St-Juste. For me, it was clear that if I had the opportunity to make it to the NFL one day, I was going to want to give my time and energy to give back to the community and make it easier for the youth.”

Matthew Bergeron

Photo Benoît Rioux

“My mother and I would have liked to have benefited from a foundation like this,” said Bergeron who, at 24, considers St-Juste to be a model to follow. “Football may not be as expensive a sport as hockey, but when you add in camps and trips to the United States to try to get noticed, it adds up quickly.”

A new standard

In addition to the three players present Monday in Bromont, there is also Sidy Sow, of the New England Patriots, among the Quebecers currently in the NFL.

“It’s still pretty crazy,” responded Bergeron. A few years ago, there was Laurent [Duvernay-Tardif] and that wasn’t bad.”

“The goal is to have 6, 8 or 10 in a few years,” continued St-Juste. We want it to become a standard because we know there is talent in Quebec.”

Mathieu Betts takes nothing for granted

BROMONT – Mathieu Betts and Benjamin St-Juste have played a lot of football, each on their own, since their conquest of the Bol d’Or, in 2014, with the Spartans of Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. Despite different backgrounds, they now both find themselves in the NFL.

Betts made it a point to be present in Bromont on Monday to encourage his former teammate and the L’Originale Foundation.

Mathieu Betts and Benjamin St-Juste Photo Benoît Rioux

“He’s the best player I’ve played with at the college level,” said St-Juste, about Betts. He is a great example that different paths can lead to the NFL. Now I’m hopeful that he can excel in Detroit with the Lions. He had a really good pre-camp.”

Good words from the coach

Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he was impressed by Betts during recent camp.

“He has very good hips for a man his size, he can run and he is intelligent,” Campbell noted earlier this month.

“It’s positive, but football is a daily job,” Betts reacted to the coach’s laudatory comments. So much the better if I did good things, but what will count is what I will do in the future, in training camp, in preparatory games, and in the first week against [les Rams de] The Angels.”

“That’s nice to look at!”

If all goes well, Betts could indeed play his first career NFL game against the Rams on Sunday, September 8, in Detroit. Without taking anything for granted, the Quebecer says he is confident.

“I am super proud to see a teammate with whom I played at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal in turn represent the province of Quebec in the NFL,” added St-Juste, color bearer of the Washington Commanders, with optimism. That’s nice to look at!”

Unfortunately, no game is scheduled between the Lions and Commanders this season in the NFL.

2024-06-17 22:01:24
#Quebecers #NFL

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