Making the smart play: Edmonton student an all-star on and off the field

M.E. LaZerte student Mohammed Almokdad is an all-star on and off the football field.

'You can’t just be good at one thing, because what if that one thing fades?'

M.E. LaZerte student Mohammed Almokdad was recognized Wednesday evening for excelling in athletics and academics. (M.E. LaZerte Football)

M.E. LaZerte student Mohammed Almokdad is an all-star on and off the football field.

The 17-year-old wide receiver was rewarded for balancing school with sport Wednesday evening at the team's season wrap-up ceremony, receiving the new Chris Morris Student-Athlete Academic Award, named after the head coach for the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team.

The award is a big deal and two Grey Cup athletes visited the school for the awards celebration.

Almokdad said it's crucial young athletes don't get too caught up in the dream of going pro.
Mohammed Almokdad is a wide receiver on the M.E. LaZerte High School football team.

"If football's taking up all your time, unless you're going to be a really, really good football player that's going to really high leagues, I don't think that's the greatest idea," said Almokdad, a Grade 12 International Baccalaureate student.

"You have to be well-rounded. You can't just be good at one thing, because what if that one thing fades?"

Almokdad said he put a lot of work into becoming a better football player, but doesn't plan on making a career out of it. Instead, he'll study physiology at the U of A.

"I want to be able to support my family when I get older," he said. "Just a college degree in general opens so many paths to me."

Fresh off a Grey Cup win, Calgary Stampeder Justin Lawrence spoke to the high school team on Wednesday evening.

Mark Korte, #65, and Justin Lawrence, #51, played for the University of Alberta's Golden Bears before making it to the CFL. (Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics/Supplied)

Lawrence played football in high school, and said balancing sport and school is tough, but worth it.

"If you're a kid in high school who has unbelievable grades, you have the chance to go anywhere in Canada, possibilities in the States," said Lawrence, who previously played football with the U of A's Golden Bears. "It creates opportunities and leads for a better career in the long run."

Ottawa Redblacks offensive lineman and former Golden Bear Mark Korte also spoke to the young athletes.

"It's important to focus on academics for these kids because eventually football will end, whether it's tonight is the end for it or it's 20 years from now," said Korte, who is working on getting a business degree.

"They have to be ready for life after that. And if they do it right and they take care of academics and football, they can set themselves up to be very successful when football does end for them."