Monday December 14th, 2009 - Champlain College located in the south shore might not be as big as the other Colleges in the Montreal area, however they are involved in sports in a very big way. They take great pride in trying to prepare their students for the next step in their lives. The Champlain sports program is no different. "Most colleges try to keep their best players as long as possible. The Champlain Cavaliers on the other hand take great pride in preparing these student athletes for the next level whether it's organizing themselves to be successful on and off the field at the rigorous University level or in some cases the responsibilities and commitment needed to be a professional soccer player ," explains assistant coach Mike Paladino.
The Champlain Cavaliers who have been a league favorite in the last couple years always find themselves fighting for the Provincial Championship year after year. In fact they have won the College Provincial Championship four times in the last six years. They were also the only team from Quebec to ever win the CCAA National Championship when they brought home the trophy in 2007. A tall task considering they compete against older and more experienced players in the CCAA due to different set of eligibility regulations in the other provinces involved.
Over the years some professional soccer players have walked through the halls of Champlain. A few of the Champlain Cavaliers alumni are currently playing for the Impact. Nevio Pizzolitto, Patrick Leduc and Gabriel Gervais were all part of the Champlain Cavaliers years ago. Three players from the 2008 Cavaliers squad went on to join L'Attak de Trois Rivieres who won the CPSL Championship this passed summer. "Our focus is not only to win a championship every year but to prepare these athletes for a possibility of a professional soccer career. Seeing three of my kids win the CPSL Championship with L'Attak this year was just as gratifying as winning my own championship," explains Champlain Cavaliers Soccer head coach Mauro Di Ciocco. He goes on to say, "There were also five Champlain alumni playing in the CIS final this year and four who were named to the CIS all tournament team this year. Louis Fouquet, Vincent Cournoyer, Marc-Andre Maillet, Louis-Charles Laliberte and Gabriel Moreau were all part of the Champlain Cavaliers. Gabriel Moreau was also named MVP of the CIS National Championship. I think this speaks greatly about the student-athletes that Champlain College produces."
Other Champlain alumni have made a name for themselves in the United States and the NCAA. Freshman Mehdi Belakehal and Berian Gobeil-Cruz both made a strong impact for the University of Stony Brook Seawolves. Capturing the America East Championship this year Berian contributed with five goals and two assists. They lost to Brown University in the first round of the NCAA College Cup. Etienne Boulanger who also sported a Cavaliers jersey is currently playing at the University of North Carolina and is tied to the team lead with five goals this season. He also earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team and helped UNC reach a number 22 ranking in the NCAA.
Head Coach for the last two seasons, Mauro Di Ciocco took over the Cavaliers Soccer program after being an assistant coach for three years under Dean Howie. "The one thing Dean always used to say was It's About Creating Memories. He stressed the importance of the experience as a whole and not just the winning side of things. The relationships that would be build, the life lessons, and ability to look back 5, 10, or 15 years later and say all the hard work was worth it. That is how he viewed the true measure of a successful program", says Mauro.
The Champlain Cavaliers are currently starting to recruit players for their 2010 season. The team is eager to begin their quest for another Championship with a brand new stadium and field set to open in Spring time. For more information on the Champlain Cavaliers or for more information on Champlain College please visit www.champlaincollege.com. Head Coach Mauro Di Ciocco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.