He had no idea why, but he did it anyway.
He just figured it was just part of another function planned by teachers and staff at C.C. Loughlin School for the purpose of sharing some good news or celebrating an event or special occasion.
He was all smiles when he realized it was a little more exciting than most of the gatherings he attends in the school gymnasium throughout the year.
There was an air of excitement and anticipation in the air as the school played host for a visit from the 2017 Grey Cup champion Ottawa Redblacks.
The visit was part of a Newfoundland and Labrador Grey Cup Tour organized by Redblacks owner Jeff Hunt, who grew up in Stephenville and eventually became one of the most successful sports team owners in the country with both a Memorial Cup and Grey Cup championship on his resume,
“I thought it was just something we were doing in school and next thing you know I see my favourite player, Greg Ellingson, just walked into the gym,” he said. “It was awesome. It was pretty cool.”
Redblacks star receivers Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli joined Hunt and a number of his staff for a warm reception at the city school when they showed up with the Grey Cup in hand.
The two stars spoke about the challenges they faced in their respective desires to play professional football and wanted to share their experiences with young boys and girls who had packed into the gym.
Believe and you shall achieve.
Set goals and put a plan in place to carry them out.
Anything is possible if you never give up.
Those were some of the words of wisdom shared by the two champions, who used their own experiences to drive the message home by sharing how they kept going even though people told them they would never make it, how they battled through injury and how they overcame failures before they found success.
It was a pretty tame listening audience as the students got a chance to interact and receive a few neat gifts for their participation, but the place erupted when Big Joe entered the gymnasium.
Big Joe is the team’s mascot, a strapping lumberjack who had all hands chasing him around for a few minutes before the chaos stopped and students got a chance to get class photos with the two special guests.
Joyce was elated to have members of his favourite football team make a special appearance at his school and he learned a lot from the message shared with the students.
“You have to work on your dreams and never give up,” Joyce said.
School vice-principal Brigitte White was impressed with how the players interacted with the students and liked how they stressed the importance of teamwork and what it means to be a part of one because it’s a key ingredient to success not only in sports, but at school and at work.
She hopes the children listened to the message, but more importantly she hopes they incorporate it into their daily life.
“I really liked the message of teamwork,” White said. “The idea that when you’re maybe disrespecting somebody else you’re also disrespecting yourself so we work together as a team to better ourselves and our school.
“Realizing that your going to get a few stumbling blocks and you just dust yourself off and keep going.”