MONTREAL – “After that game, I remember crying in my mother’s arms! A few years later, I can laugh about it, but this guy brought me to tears while we ate at Cosmos on Grande Allée. »
Matthieu Proulx is amusingly smiling and honest in telling this anecdote. This is explained because, against all odds, his executioner for a day, Dave Stala, became one of his best friends when they ended up together with the Montreal Alouettes.
But, at the time, Proulx was in his first year as a starter with Laval Rouge et Or University and never expected to be pushed by this formidable receiver who also doubled as a kicker.
Red and Gold: Saint Mary’s Huskies
“I had been dominating for two games, I was playing very well. And there, Saint Mary’s came to Quebec, I was the defensive back in front of him and he devoured me! When I say all around, they won and he scored almost all the points for his team. He did everything on the field and everything at my expense, ”retained Proulx (see the 88th touchdown from the 13th second in the video).
The Rouge et Or helped us plot the match statistics. In a 26-24 win, Stella scored 20 points (6 via touchdown against Proulx, 12 via 4 field goals, and 2 via conversions) while catching 4 passes for 84 yards.
“I was on top of the world, I practically thought I was going to be a star. And there, it happens and breaks me! I started working even harder and being more humble,” said Proulx when this dose of humility was just Stala’s first impact on his life.
Three years later, the Alouettes drafted Proulx fifth overall and he rushed to join the club while Stella was a breakout receiver.
Despite what happened on the PEPS grounds, the two men became very good friends. If it may seem surprising at first glance, hearing Proulx talk about Stella, we understand how endearing it must have been.
“Dave was a crazy teammate! He didn’t take anything seriously. For him, life is a ride, it’s fun. He always has fun, smiles, and makes everyone laugh. He is the guy who cracks jokes all the time,” Proulx described, adding a crucial clarification.
“Ultimately, for coaches, it can be annoying because he’s a buffoon, but he’s also the guy who knows all the layouts for all games and all positions. You need someone who will play anywhere as a receiver, he will do it. You can put him at quarterback, he’ll know what to do. He was also a backup kicker. In short, he knows football like the back of his hand, so you can hardly blame him for anything because he was never wrong, ”said the one with a fabulous career (player, lawyer, analyst, describer, and entertainer) focused on versatility.
We arrived at the crispy, the many anecdotes lived with the one who was nicknamed “ Clingy Stila because everything stuck to her hands.
“During one off-season, we dropped off five guys (Stella, Proulx, Phillip Gauthier, Michael Botterill, and Shaun Diner) to train in Atlanta and went to Florida for a weekend. We were in great shape, physically outstanding, so Dave had made up a story and everyone had gotten in on the joke on him. We were a team cross ball, a name that sounds like a real sports car without being one. We had made up a lot of details, like that the field was 45 yards wide by 350 yards long and that a game could last anywhere from five minutes to a few days, depending on the points scored. I, I was the birdman, the only position that had the right to touch the ball. We had a series of 15 or 20 made-up things to tell. When we went to a bar, we said that to people. If someone didn’t believe us, we told them to go ask someone else in the gang. It was so much fun, we said that our games were broadcast on ESPN Eight. At one point, we convinced a goalkeeper and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen this sport before,’” Proulx recalled with the amusement of his twenty-five years.
“One year, in the locker room, he had reproduced a basketball court with tape and had baskets installed. We were playing together and he also brought bowling at another time,” the former Alouettes No. 20 continued.
“Our teammate and friend Shaun Diner had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and the number he always had to go with was 4. Before a game, he would take a picture and give it 4 picks or 14 picks. When we did an exercise, he always did 4, 14, or 24 repetitions. Dave was always going to mess up his locker right before practice. When we got out of meetings, we were in a hurry to go to the field, but he couldn’t get out of his locker was upside down. He scared him and had to put everything back in order,” Proulx noted.
“There were also their costumes. On Halloween, she always had the wildest ones. She must have worn him a makeup day. He had come disguised as an old man, but he was so successful with a hunched back, and a cane, he had shaved part of his head and had white hair. »
Proulx recognizes the value of such a teammate.
“In a sports context, having a guy who can constantly make other people laugh and then relax the atmosphere, that’s the best thing I’ve ever had. Every day he wakes up and wonders how he can make people laugh and have fun today. others”, praised Proulx who does not want to lose this precious friendship.
Beyond entertaining those around him, Stella has inspired many people, including Proulx.
“Yeah. When you meet him, you think he’s the best jester you’ve ever met. But, when we trained, he was hyper-inverted and was the first to push the others. Since he was a catcher, we often trained together one against the other. another”, agreed with Proulx, who believes that he was able to find a good balance between his career as an athlete and pleasure.
“I always told myself that if I had gone to party less, I could have extended my career a season or two. I don’t want people to think I’m hanging out every day, but I took advantage of it. In the end, I don’t mind considering all the fun I had and Dave was a big part of this trip. He was a perfect partner because we had fun, but we trained to be in shape, ”Proulx admitted about the prankster who excelled in any sport he dabbled in.
Born in Poland, Stella learned to bite into life and give back to others. Proulx had also accompanied him to Halifax for a year, where she ran a youth soccer camp.
“It had a positive influence. When I think of inspiring people, this is the guy that comes to mind and he’s an amazing character. He was a very good role model among professionals”, concludes Proulx, who invites people to see or re-see one of his funny and impressive celebrations.
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