Edmonton

Edmonton Eskimos players share life lessons with northern Alberta students

Football players get nervous too. That was the message four Edmonton Eskimos players brought with them Wednesday when they visited students at Bill Woodward School in Anzac, about 30 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

'No matter how prepared you are, you still get nervous,' fullback Calvin McCarty says

Edmonton Eskimos fullback Calvin McCarty instructs students at a football camp in Anzac, Alta. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Football players get nervous too.

That was the message four Edmonton Eskimos players brought with them Wednesday when they visited students at Bill Woodward School in Anzac, about 30 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.

Fullbacks Calvin McCarty and Christophe Normand, along with linebackers Blair Smith and Korey Jones, talked to students about the fundamentals of football and how they apply to life.

Even professional athletes battle bouts of anxiety, they told students. 

McCarty, a 12-year veteran of the CFL, said it's natural to be nervous before a game.

He suggested students should stop thinking about anxiety as a limitation and see it as motivation.

The players all say they see such emotions as signs they really care about what they're doing.

"No matter how prepared you are, you still get nervous," McCarty said. "If you don't feel the butterflies, I don't think this game is for you."

The vulnerability shown by the players made Darian Milton rethink his own plans.

"It encouraged me to tell people that I have anxiety," said Darian, 12, who used to play football.

"Some people wouldn't say that at all. You kind of want to be cool."

The message inspired him, he said, and he plans to return to the football field after having given up the sport.

As part of the Eskimos outreach program, the four players are on a tour this week in the Fort McMurray area, where they will host several camps for students, host a barbecue and visit the local hospital. 

Connect with David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca 

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.