Winnipeg Free Press: Hockey player Verreault-Paul overcomes language barrier to excel at McGill


On his first day of classes, Francis Verreault-Paul wasn’t sure he was going to survive at McGill University. The hockey player from the small Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, Que., didn’t understand much of what professors were saying to him in English. Verreault-Paul needed to understand because he had to keep his grades up to play for the Redmen. "I came to McGill not speaking any words in English, so it was really hard," Verreault-Paul recalled Sunday in Calgary. "I worked so hard. I read my texts two, three, four times sometimes. Every night I had a headache. I asked myself ’what am I doing here?’ "I was at school and understanding nothing and my grades were going down. But I spoke with a lot of guys on my team who were in the same situation as me and they just told me to keep working hard and that after four years I would be proud of what I did." The 22-year-old forward didn’t have to wait four years to feel proud. In his second season with the Redmen, Verreault-Paul finished tied for the lead in goal scoring in Canadian university hockey with 25 goals in 27 games. The psychology student has aspirations of obtaining his master’s degree and perhaps a PhD in the future. Verreault-Paul was one of eight athletes summoned to Calgary for Monday’s BLG Awards ceremony. Four men and four women from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) were nominated for the top male and female awards. Each winner receives $10,000 to put towards post-graduate studies.