From the St. Catharines Standard – Phoenix grad soars high
Alex Charette is a trailblazer for St. Francis Catholic Secondary School in St. Catharines.
By being chosen 36th overall in the fourth round of this week’s Canadian Football League draft by the Montreal Alouettes, the 23-year-old St. Catharines resident became the first St. Francis graduate to be drafted by a professional sports team.
“I definitely take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “And at Guelph, three players at Guelph got drafted this year and that’s the most in 20 years.”
That the 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver at the University of Guelph cracked this barrier came as no shock to St. Francis football coach Gord Barber. Barber had a sideline view for five years of Charette’s heroics on the football field. He remembers Charette getting caught from behind by a Holy Cross defender and vowing it would never happen again.
“He worked out the entire winter and created speed and strength for himself,” Barber said. “He has an enormously strong work ethic and desire to succeed.”
Those attributes resulted in Charette being invited to the CFL draft combine and saw him gathered with his parents, Brian and Patti Goertzen, Tuesday night to follow the draft on television and then the internet.
“My first reaction was to grab my phone because I knew they were calling,” he said. “My parents were celebrating and trying to hug me and I had to get to my phone. I had to get through them to answer the call.”
The phone call was from Montreal general manager Jim Popp.
“When I answered the phone, he asked me if I was excited to be drafted and come to Montreal,” he said. “It was surreal. I was super excited to get that call.”
He didn’t expect he would get chosen until later in the draft.
“It was a surprise to me,” said Charette, who attended the Toronto CFL combine on March 26.
He will now report to Bishop’s University May 26 for Montreal’s three-day rookie camp. From there, he hopes to get an invitation to the main camp starting
June 30. May 31. (edit)
He has been preparing for his first appearance at a pro training camp since Guelph’s season ended last fall.
“I was hoping to get drafted so I started training right away,” he said. “Once I got my combine invite, that’s when I started my combine training and that led me into March where I started training as if I was in camp.”
His training consists of agility drills, footwork, running, catching the football and working out in the weight room.
He knows what he needs to do to crack the Alouettes roster this season.
“It’s going to be through making an impact on special teams as a young Canadian,” the environmental biology student said. “That’s the most important spot for me right now as I develop as a Canadian receiver.
Charette has used that route before. In his first year at Guelph, he played special teams as a kick returner. He ended up being the kick returner his first three years and last year, he played on all special teams.
“I wanted to help my team by being on the field more and contributing more and I know the route for a Canadian to the CFL is through special teams,” he said. “I wanted to get reps.”
As he readies for the rookie camp, his goal is to make the team and be a contributing member. His fall back position is to return for his fifth and final year of eligibility at Guelph.
This past season, he had 62 catches for 742 yards, earning team offensive MVP honours and being named a Second Team Ontario University Athletics all-star. In 2013, he shared team MVP honours.
“It’s not a bad option,” he said. “I’ve known multiple guys who have gone back for their fifth year.”
Since leaving St. Francis, Charette feels his biggest stride as a football player is developing a much better understanding of the game.
“I learned the nuances of the sport in the film room and learning how it works,” he said. “In high school, I was just playing.”