Raise the bar.
On the court. In the classroom. Throughout life.
Those were former CFL player and Cathedral alumnus Curtis Bell’s words of advice to a group of Grade 11 students in a new basketball focus class offered at Cathedral High School.
Under the direction of Phys-Ed Department Head Jessica Lamparski, the session was part of the “Community Talk Tuesdays” series where influential community members are invited weekly to share how the game has had a positive impact on their life while teaching them a few new drills they can take to the court.
“This is a great opportunity for students to see that basketball is more than just a game,” said Lamparski.
“It can elevate you as a person and help you succeed.”
For Bell, a football star, his approach to success doesn’t favour any one sport but rather a disciplined mindset.
“The most important thing is preparation,” he said.
“And preparation is hard work.”
Where does it start?
In the classroom.
“Get your grades. Get your education and raise the bar high for yourself. You will not pass clearance into a university in any sport without grades.”
But don’t stop there.
“After your grades, recruiters look for what type of person are you,” he added.
“Are you a team player? Do you handle adversity well? What is your work ethic like? Do you put in that extra time? Are you passionate? Are you supportive? Do you volunteer your time for others?”
“They are looking for someone who is an investment to them. That fills stands.”
A path built on dedication and accountability, Bell admits that while it’s not easy, it’s rewarding to those who put in the effort. More importantly, the values learned along the way are transferable to other areas in life, like having a career and supporting your family.
In addition to Bell, other speakers who have given their share of advice include: Hamilton’s basketball icon Joe Raso, whose coaching career has spanned from the high school, university, national and NBA level, Redeemer University Head Coach Jamie Girolametto, McMaster University Assistant Coach Keenan Jeppesen and former Gael and current player for the Halifax Hurricanes Tyrone Watson.
“All the speakers have all emphasized the importance of academics, hard work and accessing your support networks,” said Lamparski.
“Take every hand extended to you,” said Bell, as a last piece of advice.
“Because you don’t know who that person is or who they have contacts with.”
“That’s the window of opportunity.”