I just got this link about QB Anthony Calvillo in an email. I hope fans and CFL players find it inspirational as we head into the Christmas season. Wishing you all a happy and safe Christmas and New Year!
Calvillo's code of conduct
By Cameron Zimmer
While football is important to Montreal Alouette Anthony Calvillo, his relationship with God and his family are more so. Photo courtesy Montreal Alouettes
He's coming off one of the best seasons of his career, having won the Grey Cup and the Most Outstanding Player award (for the second year in a row).
At this point, you couldn't fault Anthony Calvillo, the Montreal Alouettes' 6-foot-1, 213 pound quarterback, for taking some credit and listening to the buzz. He does the opposite, however, by pointing to coach Mark Tressman's leadership, the team's stellar defense, and his main weapon: running back Avon Cobourne.
"When I go into a season, I set goals for myself - being the MOP is not one of them," Calvillo tells Living Light News.
"I think when you're on a winning team, the quarterback is always going to be one of the guys that get recognized but I've always shared this whole experience with the whole team."
This selfless attitude isn't just a gimmick for media microphones. In 2007, Calvillo put football into perspective for players and fans alike when he left the team late in the season to be with his wife Alexia Kontolemos, now 40, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
"Frequently what happens with athletes is that they'll give lip service and say, ÔWell my dad died and I'd be at his funeral but the team needs me for this game because that's what he would have wanted,' and there may be some legitimacy to that," shares Alouettes' Chaplain Tom Paul.
"Anthony was on the verge of setting several CFL records, but his wife needed him. With the permission of the team and the respect of his teammates he took that time off to be with Alexia.
"It's the most tangible evidence of harmony between his code and his conduct." As much as his late season exit speaks to his personal character, Calvillo says Christian faith was the basis for his decision and the foundation for his family surviving this trying time.
Kontolemos is now cancer-free and the couple is happily raising their two daughters, but they were shaken when they first heard the cancer diagnosis two years ago.
As Christians, the only thing Anthony and Alexia could do was drop to their knees to pray.
"She was frightened so much, but we just got down on our knees and asked God to really open up our minds and give us the answers and give us the direction to go in," says Calvillo.
"There were tests that had to be done and decisions that had to be made, but we felt very confident that God was leading us.
"That was the one thing that really got all of us through this whole process - to be able to trust the Lord and know that His plan was going to work."
This unswerving trust in God didn't develop overnight. In fact, it has taken Calvillo the better part of his life to realize how much he needed God.
Growing up in a Catholic family of six in Los Puentes, California, Calvillo was familiar with church but never made faith a priority. As he entered high school and became more involved in sports, church and faith became even less important.
He had Christian friends while attending Utah State University, but never thought much about it. It wasn't until he was well into his football career that a good friend was killed in a car accident and Calvillo began to change his attitude.
"I was evaluating my life, what direction it was going in and it felt very empty and that's when God came into my life," says Calvillo.
In 2000, Calvillo made a commitment to Jesus Christ and began attending the Alouettes' chapel. He admits that he wasn't sure about how his new faith would mesh with being a football player. Before making a decision to enter a relationship with Christ, Calvillo says he didn't feel much conviction.
After he became a Christian, he wondered if all his fun as a CFL star was over. "I thought I was going to be missing out on a lot of things and I was totally wrong, because some interesting things and new people came into my life that really opened up my mind," says Calvillo.
Not long after he became a Christian, Chaplain Paul encouraged Calvillo to search the scriptures with the same intensity he used when memorizing the team's playbook. The student of the game took the advice to heart and has made reading the Bible a daily priority.
Calvillo's commitment to his faith and his consistent lifestyle have made him a trusted leader and friend in the Alouettes' locker room.
Calvillo says he always admired how Tracy Ham, a former Alouettes' quarterback and fellow Christian, would speak into players' lives. Now teammates who used to only talk to Calvillo about football approach him to discuss personal problems and faith.
"He is highly respected for his veteran leadership," says Paul.
"He has a soft voice, but when he speaks, everyone listens. He's demonstrated off the field a real consistency between his beliefs and his behaviour."