Barrette the Alouette

Former Stingers Lineman to Dress for Montreal

  • Photo by John Mahoney

  • Photo by John Mahoney

Like many young Canadians, ex-Concordia Stinger Anthony Barrette’s first passion was hockey. But a chance meeting helped spur his move from the ice rink to the gridiron.

“I used to play hockey up until I was 15,” said Barrette. “But then I kind of lost the passion for it. A year later I was playing pick-up football at a park in Lasalle and a coach from the Lasalle Warriors saw me and asked me to play.”

The switch is now paying dividends for Barrette, as he just signed his first professional contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

After spending five years anchoring the left side of the Stingers’ offensive line, Barrette was drafted 16th overall in the second round during the 2011 Canadian Football League draft.

The history major started out as a defensive lineman, but seamlessly made the switch to offensive line in his second year at Vanier College. He was skeptical at first, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

“Playing defense was fun, it was more about instinct,” said Barrette, “Offensive line is kind of the same thing, but it’s a controlled violence because it’s way more technical. There’s a lot of thinking involved.”

Despite his obvious talent, going pro was never really in the cards—until he was told it was impossible.

“When I first started playing I never thought about [it],” said Barrette. “I had some coaches at the time who told me I should probably focus on school because I was never going to go anywhere in football. When I was told that, something clicked inside my brain, I told myself that I was going to change everything around, that this was what I wanted to do and that I was going to do it.”

His determination culminated in his name getting called by his hometown team on that fateful draft day in May of 2011.

“In life, if you have a goal, no matter what it is, and you achieve that goal, even when all the odds are against you—that’s one of the best feelings in the world,” he said. “That day when I got drafted, it could have been any team in the CFL, it was just a great feeling—I can’t really describe it. It was such a sense of accomplishment, that all the years of training had paid off.”

“I had some coaches at the time who told me I should probably focus on school because I was never going to go anywhere in football. When I was told that, something clicked inside my brain, I told myself that I was going to change everything around, that this was what I wanted to do and that I was going to do it.” – Anthony Barrette

Barrette has had a strong supporting cast around him throughout his football career. He credits his parents as being the two most important people in his life, and also singled out his uncle, Peter Folko, as being his role model. Folko played in the National Hockey League with the Vancouver Canucks, but his career was cut short by a knee injury.

His football role model, Marwan Hage, offensive lineman for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was key in shaping Barrette’s game.

“I started training with Marwan in my second year at Concordia, and he really made me realize that my dream was possible,” said Barrette. “He taught me to stay focused on getting better at my position and taught me a lot about the business aspect of the league.”

Barrette also credits Bryan Chiu, former Alouettes offensive lineman and current assistant offensive coordinator of the Stingers, for not only helping him improve as a football player, but also preparing him for life as a professional athlete.

Chiu had nothing but good things to say about Barrette, and is confident that he will be a good CFL player for years to come.

“I think Anthony is a great player,” said Chiu, who played 13 seasons with the Alouettes, “He’s got size and great athletic ability, he’s very quick for a guy his size. He’ll do everything you ask of him as a coach and those are the guys you love to have. He’s not the most vocal guy, but he’s a great leader by example.”

His unwavering determination and will to succeed is what got Barrette to this point, and he knows it’s what will allow him to succeed in the CFL.

“The ultimate goal is to become not just a good player in the CFL, but a legend in the CFL,” said Barrette. “It’s going to be a long road, but I’m ready.”

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