Western offers perfect blend of school, sport for commit

Western adds another local commit to their Class of 2018.

It can be difficult to think of a life post-football, but that’s exactly what Alex Veilleux, a defensive lineman from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, did when he joined the Western Mustangs.

Western has a lot of things going for Veilleux, but it was the school’s academic prestige that holds the most importance. “The top-notch facilities and internationally renowned programs were a huge draw for me as life after football was in the forefront of my mind when making my decision,” he said.

Veilleux dreams of being a nurse, and eventually a nurse practitioner. “I’ve always felt like the most fulfilling work would be a career in which I could help people, and nursing is, in my opinion, the ideal venue to pursue this calling,” he said. He added that he feels he will be well-equipped to earn his degree with the school’s brand-new facilities.

Courtesy of Alex Veilleux.

But, let’s not forget about the football Western offers. Veilleux, who is from London, Ontario, has had a firsthand look at the juggernaut that is Mustangs football. “You can’t beat Western’s dominance this year in the OUA, arguably the toughest division of U Sports,” he said. “Being a perennial contender of the Vanier Cup attracts me to the program, as well as Western’s long-standing tradition of excellence on and off the field.”

He added that, “Being born and raised in London also factored into my decision as there is a certain amount of pride associated with representing your home on gamedays.”

And, there is the added bonus of a smoother recruitment. Veilleux said that recruitment was easy and local and lacked the long commutes many others experience.

This past summer, Veilleux had his first taste of Mustangs football as a member of the London Jr. Mustangs (Ontario Provincial Football League). He said the experience familiarized him with the facilities, the coaches and many of his teammates, “who I will now be able to continue to play with at Western, creating an easier transition into university.”

With an air of familiarity surrounding the team already, Veilleux liked what he saw from his future bench bosses. “The coaching staff struck me as dedicated, hardworking people who truly do look after their players,” he said. “I was impressed by the coaches’ commitment to the program and to the ‘Western way,’ which becomes evident through the success of their athletes athletically and academically.”

While on the Jr. Mustangs, Veilleux and his team captured an AAA Provincial Championship versus the Ottawa Sooners. “It was such a great experience and the first and only championship I’ve ever won,” he said of the 36-0 win.

“To be considered the pinnacle of varsity football in Ontario was a very gratifying experience and provided a feeling I will be chasing for the rest of my career,” Veilleux added. “It was also great to represent London, proving once again that our city is a hotspot for football in Ontario.”

Standing at 6’2, 260lbs, the nine-year veteran has a total of 13 seasons under his belt. He has played for the LMFA Panthers, the Forest City Thunderbirds (OFC) and the St. Thomas Aquinas Flames (Thames Valley Regional Athletics).

Alex Veilleux and his family celebrate his recruitment. Courtesy of Alex Veilleux.

In grade ten, Veilleux as named as the Flames junior MVP. After suffering from a partial ACL tear in his grade 11 year, he was able to return to the field that summer. “Being able to successfully return from this injury to play the following summer was an award in its own right,” he said.

While he wasn’t able to perform on the field, Veilleux turned heads in the classroom. At the end of grade 11, he was awarded the National Book Award from the University of Toronto for having the highest overall academic average at his school. He also received five other academic awards that year as he said balancing school and sport is a top priority.

This balancing act can be tough to accomplish alone, which is why Veilleux is thankful for those around him. He said he would like to thank his coaches, teachers and teammates for always “pushing me to be the best person and player I can be.”

He also extended his gratitude to his whole family and his parents, John and Brenda, “for always being there for me, providing the best support system I could ever hope for,” he said. “Accommodating my busy schedule couldn’t have always been easy, and I’ll always be grateful for the effort and love they’ve shown me.”

While the 2018 season is still many months off, Veilleux may as well be counting the days already. He said, “I can’t wait to be involved with such a great program with the best leadership around!”

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