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Inside the CFL: Education and passion for the game drive Als’ Micah Awe

“Soccer to me is a microcosm of life and also you get a variety of life classes from soccer which you could train folks,” linebacker says.

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Micah Awe, maybe probably the most attention-grabbing participant on the Alouettes, in all probability by no means got down to make professional soccer a profession.

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Born in Nigeria and raised in a Dallas suburb, he was relegated to the D crew — the bottom of low within the football-mad state of Texas — when he started enjoying in seventh grade. He began as a fullback and was rapidly promoted two ranges earlier than finally discovering his calling at linebacker at Texas Tech, the one faculty that supplied him a scholarship.

However that’s solely a small a part of Awe’s essence.

Schooling got here first at dwelling — not shocking, contemplating Awe’s mom has a grasp’s diploma in molecular pathology, whereas his father has his grasp’s in prison justice and is now learning for his PhD. One among 4 youngsters, Awe’s sister works in finance, whereas his brothers are learning chemical engineering and laptop science.

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To recommend tv was frowned upon till homework and faculty assignments had been accomplished can be an understatement.

“I can inform you tales about each report card,” Awe informed the Montreal Gazette this week. “I acquired too many Bs and Cs. It was accountability on the finish of the day. I used to be good at school, however I used to be artistic and needed to actually focus and work on it. My mother and father made (training) a severe factor.”

Throughout his 4 seasons at Texas Tech — one in every of his teammates was Kansas Metropolis quarterback Patrick Mahomes beneath head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who now guides the Arizona Cardinals — Awe collected 171 tackles, together with 77 as a senior, when he was named a defensive captain.

However Awe additionally graduated with a level in petroleum engineering — oil and gasoline having some significance in Texas — a profession which, if pursued, would pay handsomely and dwarf his CFL wage. Whereas Awe would possibly but turn out to be the president of Exxon, spending greater than half of every 12 months enjoying soccer has meant placing his diploma to make use of solely as soon as. He lasted lower than 4 months on the College of Illinois, ostensibly as a consequence of spending 5 hours each day driving to and from work.

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“If I needed to earn money, there’s different issues I might do,” the 28-year-old mentioned. “Soccer to me is a microcosm of life and also you get a variety of life classes from soccer which you could train folks. You learn to undergo getting lower for no cause, or working in 99 diploma climate.

“This isn’t in regards to the cash; it’s one thing deeper than that,” Awe added. “I’ve realized recently I need to make an affect on folks. I do know soccer’s not going to offer me the very best cash proper now, however when you’re writing about me, what number of youngsters will that encourage? It sounds corny, however that’s your worth on this world. Any child who hears my story or is undersized …”

It wasn’t straightforward combining athletics and training at school — Awe’s GPA was a modest 2.85 — however he missed just one observe over 4 seasons.

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“I’m not a genius, however I understand how to make issues a little bit less complicated,” he defined. “Each play’s easy in soccer and, when you simplify it, you need to use your athleticism. My athleticism’s via the roof, however linebacker’s such a tough place to make use of it as a result of there’s a variety of considering. If you may make it easy, you’ll be able to’t be stopped.

“Whether or not I turn out to be a petroleum engineer on the finish of the day or not, it’s how I discovered. I discovered easy methods to take good notes, easy methods to get a variety of data and categorize it in my thoughts.”

Awe’s nomadic soccer journey has taken him to Tampa Bay and the New York Jets within the NFL — no video games had been performed — together with three stints at B.C. and stops in Toronto and Ottawa. He performed one recreation this season with the Lions earlier than requesting his launch in late June, suspecting he was a ratio sufferer who would solely see the sphere sporadically.

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Awe signed with the Als on July 6 — the identical day head coach Khari Jones and defensive co-ordinator Barron Miles had been fired. Having to rapidly adapt to new DC Noel Thorpe would hardly disconcert the 6-foot, 216-pounder; he had 5 totally different co-ordinators at school.

“He’s tremendous good and really bodily,” normal supervisor and interim head coach Danny Maciocia mentioned. “He can run and can run to the ball.”

Firmly entrenched because the Als’ center linebacker, Awe has performed three video games with Montreal, recording 11 defensive tackles and one other on particular groups. He recovered a fumble at Ottawa on July 21, returning it 68 yards.

Whereas soccer stays Awe’s life, not less than for now, he doesn’t need to be outlined solely for that. When COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 CFL season, he launched an app, PurpleShift, offering athletes a shot at recruitment. It empowers and connects them, serving to them achieve publicity via the ability of knowledge.

Nonetheless, for so long as he’s with the Als, Awe’s decided to make a distinction regardless of this season’s struggles.

“I need to be nice,” he mentioned. “In any other case, why am I enjoying soccer? I feel I’m good. I feel I’m nice. But when I’m not on the market and other people aren’t speaking about me … I’m not doing effectively sufficient.”

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