Football Legend Gives Back
Leroy Fontaine traces his interest in football and academic excellence back to when he was in Grade 3 and Henry “Gizmo” Williams and Willie Pless of the Edmonton Eskimos visited his school. “They did a ‘Be Cool, Stay in School’ presentation and since that day, I was inspired to play football and achieve my goals. That kick-started everything for me,” says Fontaine.
To pursue his dream of playing football, he moved in with his uncle in Fort McMurray when he was in Grade 7. He worked hard in the classroom and played every sport he could. “All the coaches I had were very supportive and they were always willing to give me help and guidance,” he says.
After high school he moved to Edmonton to play with the Huskies and take the personal fitness trainer program at NAIT. Then it was on to Saint Mary’s where he earned a criminology degree and played four seasons as a linebacker on the university’s team. One of his university highlights was playing in the 2007 Vanier Cup in front of 30,000 fans in Rogers Centre in Toronto. We lost to the Manitoba Bisons.
When football legend Leroy Fontaine finished playing ball for Saint Mary’s University, he wanted to do something to give back.
The end result was Tribal Dreams, a football camp he co-founded with former Edmonton Huskies teammate Dathan Thomas to give Aboriginal youth the skills to succeed, both on and off the playing field.
“Dathan and I were on the same path,” says Fontaine. “He had just finished his career with the Saskatchewan Huskies and wanted to run a football camp. I was just ending my days with Saint Mary’s Huskies and wanted to do something to support Aboriginal youth. We decided to work together to do both.”
As an Aboriginal person who grew up on northern Alberta’s Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, Fontaine has a distinct advantage when it comes to understanding the struggles faced by today’s Aboriginal youth.
“Both Dathan and I have “not-so-perfect” upbringings,” he says, “so we’re able to relate to troubled young people and share our passion through the use of football and Tribal Dreams.”
In the spirit of paying it forward, and in recognition of Fontaine’s legacy on Husky field and his commitment to social responsibility, the 2012-13 Huskies Football players worked with team photographer Joe Chrvala, and an alumni group called The Old Dogs, to produce a set of 80 collectible trading cards, the proceeds of which went to support Tribal Dreams. For more information on Tribal Dreams, visit www.tribaldreams.ca.
The next project for the Football Huskies will be autographed, numbered, limited edition cards—designed again this year by Colin Sutton. Proceeds for these collector’s items will be divided between Tribal Dreams and Nova Scotia Special Olympics.