By Perry Lefko
You’ve heard of the slogan ‘Just Do It’, but Montreal Alouettes’ backup middle linebacker/special teams player Nicolas Boulay professes to ‘Just Do More’.
Nicolas, who is a CFL Players Association player representative with the Als, is a co-founder/investor in DoMore training clothing line, which is as much about lifestyle as it is about fitness.
The company’s Founder/Chief Executive Officer is David Lavoie, who played football at the University of Sherbrooke with Nicolas. David started DoMore seven years ago providing training programs for high performance athletes and youth development, in addition to expertise in modernizing weight rooms in schools. David approached Nicolas four years ago about starting the clothing line and thus DoMore expanded.
“It’s more than a brand for us,” Nicolas told me. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s the way to do things. To have success in life, sometimes you have to do a little bit more. You’ve got to go to bed a little earlier, eat a little bit better, train a little harder. You’ve got to work on the little details. You’ve got to do more in all those aspects of life. That’s what we want to push.
“We have a lot of kids that work out in our facilities and are on the right path to doing great things.”
Nicolas is competing in a business space that is inundated with motivational sayings and ideologies, the difference with DoMore is the concept of doing less to do more.
“It’s about learning about yourself, learning about how you become a better player in all aspects of your life,” he said. “We’re talking about athletes here, but it is everyday life. It’s the way you walk around; the way you do things; the way you approach challenges. Let’s say you go to work and you don’t feel like it, it’s about doing the little things – waking up with a good attitude, doing a little bit more work and you’ll reap the benefits. That’s what we’re pushing. It might be close to (Nike’s) ‘Just Do It’, but we created something that we’re really proud of. The Montreal community is kind of our clientele right now. It is the children we are reaching out to. We’re feeling like we are really having an impact on these kids’ lives in the long term. That’s all we want and hope for. If we can turn kids in the right direction we’ve done our job.”
Nicolas is also the Founder of Club 52 Foundation, which is now in its fourth year. The 52 is his jersey number and it also the number of youths he invites to attend an Alouettes’ game in a private section, with food being provided to each of them. More than 2,000 youths from various Quebec foundations have been invited to the games – a VIP experience that they would not otherwise have been able to afford.
“We are targeting young teenagers,” he said. “Personally for me and generally speaking, when you are that age, you’re like clay. You’re so mouldable still. You’re affected by everything around you and you need positive role models. I think with social media nowadays it’s really, really hard to find those positive role models.
“What is success on social media? Somebody who has a lot of followers? Somebody who makes a lot of money? We’re trying to give these kids a positive role model to see what success looks like and all the hard work it took for me to get here.
“After the game, I go over and meet them, take pictures and sign autographs and take them on to the field and they get to meet other players. It’s a good experience for them. Sometimes you just point somebody in the right direction and you can change their lives. For me it’s just gratifying to see the smile on their faces.
“I have a lot of help from my fiancée, Stephanie Beauregard. She’s over there always welcoming the kids when they get to the stadium and helping them get to their seats, giving them [food] and handing out my player cards.
“This is also the third year that the Canadian Tire Foundation has been with us, sponsoring the cause to help make this happen. [Usually] we’re paying for this out of our pockets and we’re looking for investors everywhere. We have a lot of people that give. They are very, very generous, [which makes it so] we can make it happen every year.”
He recently brought some Canadian military soldiers and their kids to a game.
“We had the opportunity – the chance – to do this,” he said. “I appreciate what the soldiers do for us. I feel like they don’t have enough recognition in this country. It was a way for me to give back to them; to show them I appreciate what they do for our country; what they do giving us an opportunity to live free. All we do is play a game. What they do is real life.”
Nicolas shares with the youths his personal story about overcoming various obstacles to become a professional football player. Between the ages 11-18, he lived for seven years in South Carolina, where his parents moved to retire, and had to learn English after speaking almost exclusively in French. He played football with and against kids who grew up with the game.
“I was always the kid that wasn’t big enough, not strong enough, not fast enough,” he said. “I had to work at every level I was at. When I played at high school, I was told I was not big enough to play at a big U.S college program.”
He received a scholarship at a Division II school in the United States, but subsequently returned to Canada and played one season at the University of Laval. It did not go well on the field and in school because the transition to speaking French from English made it difficult and he failed several classes.
“It was a low point in my career,” he said. “I was debating whether football was right for me.”
He decided to give himself a “second shot” at the University of Sherbrooke, his father’s alma mater, where he also transferred from biology to finance. The University of Sherbrooke recognized his football potential, although it wasn’t enough to earn an invite to one of the Canadian Football League’s regional evaluation camps, which he said became another crossroad in his career. He could choose to put in all the hard work to potentially become drafted player or relax and enjoy the last couple of years partying in university.
“I decided to buckle up my chinstrap and work twice as hard,” he said.
He was invited to the main evaluation camp in 2013 and was ultimately drafted by the Alouettes.
“I’ve been here ever since, but even in the professional system there’s been ups and downs,” he said. “It’s a super-emotional game and sometimes there’s a lot of politics involved in football at the professional level. You’ve got to keep grinding, keep working, and that’s the message we tell the kids. It’s not always going to be easy and it’s not always going to be fair, either. You’ve got keep believing in your dreams and work hard.
“Nothing is going to be handed to you and nothing is fair in life. You think life owes you something because it’s not fair, because you worked harder, because you’re the better athlete. It’s not going to happen your way. You’ve just got to face the facts: keep working, keep grinding until it happens. It will happen if you truly believe in it.”
Incidentally, his elder brother, Mathieu, played in the CFL from 2011-2015 with stops in Saskatchewan, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton, winning a Grey Cup in 2015.
Their father played at the University of Sherbrooke in the ’70s.
— Nicolas Boulay (@NicolasBoulay) June 9, 2017
“Football has always been in our family,” he said.
With the game in his blood, it has been his ‘Do More’ attitude that has truly garnered him success.