Erick Lessard and Emilio Frometa are building quite a football résumé together.
This past weekend, the pair of St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School graduates added world championship gold medals to their list of athletic achievements.
Competing for Team Canada at the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Under-19 World Championship, held in Texas from June 30 to July 7, 18-year-old Lessard and 19-year-old Frometa took posts on the team's offensive line as the nation found some revenge on the gridiron against the United States.
In 2009, the championship's inaugural year, Canada lost to the United States in the gold-medal game, 41-3. This time around, Canada took the gold with a 23-17 victory over the defending champions.
"Our offensive line was one of the stronger points of our team," Frometa said. "We wanted to set the tone (with our offensive line). That's what helped us beat the Americans. I don't think they thought we were going to be as physical as we were."
Frometa played left guard for the Canadians, while Lessard said he filled a few different positions.
"There were so many really good players," Lessard said. "I played positions I'd never really played on the offensive line, so that really helped the team out."
Both young men described the international victory as one of the greatest moments in their lives.
"It's a really big deal," Lessard said. "How often do you get to win a world championship?
"It was just an outstanding group of guys," he added. "To see so many highly recruited players and future CFL and NFL players all on the same team — it was really something I was proud to be a part of."
Playing for Team Canada almost didn't happen for the pair. Inadvertently left off a a group email list announcing the tryouts that took place in Guelph in March, Lessard and Frometa were scrambling when they caught word of the tryouts only two days before they happened.
Luckily, the defensive co-ordinator for Team Canada, who had also been recruiting the two Sudbury players, caught Lessard and Frometa in a "try-out reminder" email just in the nick of time.
"It was a last-minute thing," Frometa said. "We drove down to Guelph, had the tryout and it turned out really good. About a month later, we got the phone call from (head) coach (Noel) Thorpe. We had both made the team, so that was pretty cool."
This fall, the next chapter for the young football stars will begin in Kingston as both Lessard and Frometa suit up with the Gaels at Queen's University.
"I'm proud to have gone through this with (Emilio)," Lessard said. "We played together for the five years of high school and we'll be playing together at Queen's."
"It's pretty cool we got to do all this together," Frometa added. "We did the high school thing together and we just did the Team Canada thing ... to do that with one of your high school teammates, to win a world championship, that's pretty neat."
Posted by Laurel Myers