A True Leader On and Off The Field
Veteran Eric Noivo Reflects On His Career as a Stinger
Chances are if you’ve caught a Concordia Stingers football game in the last couple of years, or if you’ve been around the Concordia Sports Complex at Loyola, you’ve seen the man known simply as Eric Noivo.
Asked to describe himself in three words he chose: hard-working, easy-going and fun.
Noivo, 25, played the latter part of the last five seasons as defensive end for the Concordia Stingers men’s football team, four under former head coach Gerry McGrath and the last one under rookie head coach Mickey Donovan.
Coach Donovan had nothing but the utmost of respect for the young man from Kirkland.
“He’s a guy who actually truly cares about people,” said Donovan. “He reminds me a lot of my brother [Pat] and I in our playing days. If somebody needs something, he’s always there to help them no matter what and looks for everybody’s best interest. That’s what’s really impressive about Eric.”
The West Island born and raised Noivo has been playing football at the elite level for the past 14 years. Born to Portuguese parents, they tried to push soccer but he opted for passing the pigskin instead.
“I remember by the time I got to high school, I watched a movie or documentary about football, and thought it’d be fun to win a championship,” said Noivo. “Then my dad signed me up. Little did I know it would be that hard to win one. 14 years later I have yet to win something of known.”
After graduating St. Thomas High School, he went on to complete a college degree in Psychology at John Abbott while playing for the Islanders, before starting at Concordia in the winter of 2010.
Under Coach McGrath, he didn’t get a chance to see his first action as a Stinger until midway through his second season with the team, but he still remembers his first game.
“I didn’t dress my entire first season and then midway into the second season I was dressed against McGill,” said Noivo. “That first game I was so nervous. I hadn’t played a meaningful game in a year and a half. I was overthinking everything and so jittery the night before.”
Following that game, he became a regular starter, playing in almost all the games leading up until his last game this season, wearing the number 98 in the Maroon and Gold back on November 8.
“It feels really special. A lot of people don’t get to play sports at this [elite] level,” said Noivo. “In Canada, this is the highest you can go without going professional. It was sad putting on the jersey one final time but I love this school, I love this lifestyle. My last game was tough and now it’s going to be even tougher in August without having my stall.”
Throughout his career as a Stinger he’s made some strong lasting friendships over the years, including current teammates Andrew Barlett and Travis Bent.
“Being a teammate of Eric Noivo has been a complete and absolute pleasure for me,” said Barlett. “He’s everything you want in a teammate, a friend, a colleague. From year one I always knew he was someone I could count on for whatever I needed.”
Bent, who also recently completed his fifth year as a Stinger, and Noivo, were both looked at as idols and the model Stingers that the young recruits looked up to for guidance coming into Concordia. He too reflected on his former teammate.
“[Eric] is definitely a guy who puts the values of a Stinger into motion as a leader,” said Bent. “He’s a guy I loved going to battle with because I knew he could be trusted to fulfill his responsibilities with 100 per cent effort.”
After completing his specialization Psych degree in December 2013, he opted to continue his educational path with a graduate certificate in Family Life Education.
On the field, he’s seen a lot of positive changes in the foreseeable future – after finishing winless last season under McGrath, they went 5-3 under Donovan before bowing out against Laval.
“I told Mickey after the season, ‘If you had told me after a season we went 0-8 the next year we’d be 5-3 and made the playoffs, I would’ve told you were crazy,” said Noivo. “Mickey and Pat are doing such a great job and treat us literally like we’re all related. They’re really motivated and determined, and are always around.”
“That’s what disappointing. I see what greatness is coming, it’s just too bad I can’t be a part of it.”
As for his future, he’s currently mulling over possible offers to go play football overseas in his parent’s native Portugal as one of the many destinations that are seeking out his skill.
“I have a couple of offers out there right now. My dream has always been to play professional football so I’m trying to see about maybe the CFL,” said Noivo. “But there’s a difference between them and Europe but they are definitely options. Nothing is for sure yet.”