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From Montreal to the National Lacrosse League: the success of Stéphane Charbonneau

Stéphane Charbonneau, whom his English-speaking teammates call Steph, established himself among the best defenders in the league at just 22 years old. This is his second season in the National League, but his first on the field.

Drafted in the fifth round by the Calgary Roughnecks in 2017, the 1.80m and 80kg defender spent much of the 2018 season with the Alberta team, but never got a chance to play, just one game.

“It was difficult, but on the other hand, I had a lot to learn. The important thing for me was absorbing as much information as possible to prepare when I was going to get my chance, ”says the one who started playing lacrosse at age 9, simply to imitate his older brothers.

Released by the Roughnecks, he was contacted by “some” other formations on the circuit prior to the opening of the market to free agents. He was eventually seduced by Philadelphia Wings head coach and general manager Paul Day, an experienced man who was entrusted with the reins of this expansion team.

« As a coach, I played him multiple times at Senior A in Ontario, and he was driving my players crazy. »

A quote from

Paul’s day

“He is a young man who just needed a real opportunity. He worked hard to get here. I knew it was going to change the rules of the game. […] As long as I’m in Philadelphia, he’ll be there too. “

When he convinced Stéphane Charbonneau to put his signature at the bottom of a contract, Paul Day knew that he had just put in his hands a player with great attacking potential who would win among the elite of the National League.

From Montreal to the National Lacrosse League: the success of Stéphane Charbonneau

Paul Day enjoyed a playing career in the National League before taking the leap behind the bench.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Paul Day says he is “very proud” of his protégé, who has accumulated 20 points in 18 games, which is good for fourth place at the rear of the circuit in the league.

“Points are not my job, but they are an advantage. However, what I am most proud of is my game on defense, ”says Stéphane Charbonneau.

Quebeque rare

“I’ve been in the league for about 30 years and I think he’s the first Quebec player, trained in Quebec, to play there. It’s a great feat, ”explains Paul Day, a veteran who became a coach after a playing career.

To get there, Stéphane Charbonneau had to make the necessary sacrifices, including leaving Quebec for Ontario in Junior B before breaking the ranks of Junior A. He also made a detour to Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Stéphane Charbonneau in action against the Saskatchewan Rush.

Stéphane Charbonneau said he was “blown away” by the atmosphere during the Saskatchewan Rush games.

Photo: Radio-Canada

“There is a lot of talent in Quebec, but we don’t bother to see it. Being the first [Québécois à jouer dans la NLL] I’ve been waiting for a long time to pave the way for various Quebec players. I communicate with some, I do what I can to help them and develop lacrosse in Quebec, “said the player, who intends to continue his role as ambassador once he retires.

“Quebec is a good market to exploit,” admits Paul Day. The best example is Saskatchewan. A few years ago, lacrosse was a seldom practiced sport. Today, Rush fills the arena at all local games. “

The dream before money

Unlike most North American professional sports leagues, lacrosse players do not sign contracts that earn them millions of dollars when they reach the highest level of play possible.

The season in the National League begins in January and the playoffs end in April. For Wings players, Philadelphia is just their home port. Stéphane Charbonneau lives full time in Barrie, Ontario.

Monday through Thursday, he is in school to continue his studies in anthropology and sociology at Lakehead University. On the weekends, he spends them with his Wings teammates, in Philadelphia or on the road, across Canada or the United States.

During the offseason, he keeps busy playing at Senior A level in addition to leading Junior A in Ontario.

Even if this is nothing like the life of a professional athlete, Stéphane Charbonneau is far from feeling sorry for himself. He is happy to make his childhood dream come true right now.

Stéphane Charbonneau smiles during an interview with Radio-Canada.

The word of his head coach and general manager, Stéphane Charbonneau, is well in the saddle in Philadelphia.

Photo: Radio-Canada

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