OFSAA Festival 2017 (Player Profile): Dedication and a sleepless attitude have been the key for Guenette and Holy Names

DB Steven Guenette (Holy Names, Windsor)

It’s funny how much can change in a year, but it’s not surprising if you’re willing to put in the work, which is exactly the attitude defensive back Steven Guenette took during 2017 as he and the Holy Names Knights missioned their way to the OFSAA Festival and a top ten ranking on the CFC50.

The last we saw of the Knights the previous year was in the WECSSAA Finals against the number one ranked Herman Green Griffins, and despite their best efforts that night, it just wasn’t meant to be after a fourth quarter collapse. That was the last many of us thought about Holy Names, but Guenette never slept a night without remembering how close they were, and that source of inspiration was a driving force behind every rep he ran in the offseason,

“The mindset this year was entirely different from last year. After losing such an intense game, we knew that we had to stay focussed all season on the goal of getting to OFSAA. We could not let anything or any team stand in our path.” he explains.

“It was 100% focus from the moment we started to prep for the season, we were going to win. We knew we would have to dominate every single play against Herman, and never give them an opportunity to gain momentum. It was the same case for the SWOSSAA Championship, there was no way we could lose and we knew it. For both of these games we had it engraved in our heads; We are going to win. With a mindset so strong and so powerful, nobody can take us down.”

The results on the field for Guenette that day had started with blood, sweat and tears in the weight room where he trained with current CFLer Daryl Townsend, but he wasn’t content on just hitting the gym with a pro baller – even though that’d most just fine for most. Instead he seeked out as many avenues of knowledge that he could get his hands on, and the end result has been his best season and a chance to take home a OFSAA banner with the Knights,

“The second the season ended in a heartbreak loss to Herman, I was in the weight room the very next week. I never wanted to lose again. My focus was to be faster, be stronger, and to play the game even smarter. I got personal training 3-4 days a week with CFL athlete, Daryl Townsend of the Alouettes. He worked out with me, trained me to be faster, and taught me more about the game. At the same time, I played 7v7 football in Michigan for BTG through the Legacy League, where myself and many of my Holy Names teammates won the State Championship. I played in the Prospect Challenge game this past spring on the same field that we will be playing our OFSAA Championship game. I also started to referee minor football to see the game from a different perspective. The overall focus was just to better myself as an athlete and student of the game.”

That last part is always the key if you truly want to advance your football career, which may frustrate the guys who just want to ball, but not Guenette who values his time in the classroom just as much as his time on the field and currently holds an 88% average in his grade 12 courses. He understands it’s a give and take scenario, and if you decide to focus all your attention on the field, than you’re doing yourself a disservice later down the road.

“I tend to be very good at managing my time between school, football and work. My parents will never allow me to fall behind or slack on anything I do, it’s how I’ve been raised. When things get very chaotic and I don’t think I can do it all, I remember why I’m doing it all. I always tell myself; work hard now and it will all be worth it later.”

In the same breathe, that means he needs to put just as much work behind the scenes to also become a desirable prospect that coaches across the continent are aware of,

“I definitely would be interested in leaving Ontario or even the country if the proper opportunity arises for me. The recruiting process has been challenging, but talking to people about combines, camps and open recruit visits is helpful. Reaching out directly to coaches has definitely benefited my exposure. It has taught me that people of importance aren’t always going to find me, that I have to make myself known. Contacting people of importance on and off the field isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes trying to make a name for yourself can be difficult and intimidating, but worthwhile if you succeed. This lesson will serve me well in my future, no matter where that takes me.”

Before he can adventure down that road though, he’s got a football game to play, and it’s very possible he’ll be calling himself a provincial champion the next time he talks to the scouts. Regardless, Guenette is the type of guy who is genuinely happy playing the game win, loss or draw, and he’s going to miss the team atmosphere most when his time in the sun is finally over and hangs up his cleats for good,

“Off the field, the coaches are more than coaches to me. They’re like a second family that will always hold me to my highest potential, whether it’s in the classroom, the weight room, or even through life as I become a man. Their dedication and guidance is appreciated and valued and is unending. So many former Knights continue to be a part of the program, and I could see myself wanting to give back the same way in my future if given the chance. My teammates have become like brothers over the years. Many of us have played together in minor and travel football, which has given us an unspoken rhythm on the field. I will miss this connection most. Overall, we have each other’s back and best interest at heart and will always be unified through our passion for the game of football and the memories we shared as Knights.”

The Fox 40 Prospect Challenge (FPC) is a series of elite showcase games that feature the best tackle football players from across Canada aged 12-19 years. Tournaments are played in Central Canada (ON) and the West Coast (BC).

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