Éric Lapointe jersey retirement headlines Homecoming
9/13/2013 11:47:43 AMWhile Mount Allison’s Homecoming is always a big celebration on campus, there will be a little extra energy in the air as ‘Sir Éric’ arrives back to his New Brunswick home for a special honour. Éric Lapointe, who is the most successful Mountie in the 59-year history of Mount Allison’s football program, will have his number officially retired at halftime of this year’s Homecoming game (Saturday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m).
Last November Lapointe became only the second Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) player ever to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. On Saturday, he will become the first Mountie to officially have his number retired.
Lapointe arrived in Sackville from Quebec in 1995, unable to speak any English but ready to become an immediate impact player for the Mounties. During his first season he led the conference with 1,062 rushing yards on his way to winning the CIAU (now CIS) Rookie of the Year award. During his four-year Mounties career he was recognized three times as an All-Canadian and twice won the Hec Crighton Award as the most valuable player in Canadian university football.
“This is a very special day for Mount Allison Mounties’ football,” says Mounties’ director of athletics and recreation Pierre Arsenault. “When you look at the history of our program, our two Vanier Cup appearances and the four-year span when Éric tore up Canadian university football stand out as those game-changing moments that gave our program national exposure. Indeed, we still benefit from the profile that Éric and his teammates provided for our program. As we continue to restore the competitiveness excellence of our program, we continue to be driven by our legacy, a legacy that in large part was authored by number 5.”
Almost unimaginably, Lapointe amassed 1,619 yards in only eight games en route to his first Hec Crighton in 1996 and followed that up with 1,515 yards in 1998, his final season at Mount Allison. Despite playing only four years, including an injury-ridden 1997 season, Lapointe still sits in third place all-time for career rush yards with 4,666 yards. He is still the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) record holder.
According to the CIS communications office, “years after his final university outing, Lapointe, who scored 29 rushing touchdowns and 31 all-purpose majors in 28 conference games during his CIS career, still holds numerous AUS records including most rushing yards in a game (311), season (1,619), and career (4,666). One of only two CIS players to reach the 1,000-yard plateau three times, he recorded five of the 10 best single-game rushing performances in AUS history. One of five multiple Hec Crighton trophy winners, his 1996 and 1998 rushing totals still rank second and third best on the single-season CIS list, while his 4,666 career yards are good for third place overall and rank first among running backs who played only four university campaigns. His lifetime average of 167 rushing yards per contest still stands as the CIS standard.
In 1997, Lapointe led the Mounties to the then AUAA championship, marking the last time Mount Allison won the conference championship Jewett Trophy. A member of the Mount Allison Sports Hall of Fame, he went on to an eight-year career in the CFL that included a 1999 Grey Cup championship with Hamilton, and six successful seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. In 2005, a nation-wide fan poll selected him as the best Canadian university football player of all time.
2010 AUS Coach of the Year and current Mount Allison football coach Kelly Jeffrey while not coaching at Mount Allison during the “Running Man’s era,” knows all about him, and says, "Éric Lapointe was one of the most dominating players in CIS history. He had the rare combination of speed and strength that allowed him to dismantle defences designed to stop him. Éric single handedly elevated Mount Allison University onto the national stage.”
Mount Allison athletics and recreation will formally honour Lapointe and hang a banner immortalizing his beloved #5 at halftime of this weekend’s Homecoming game. The Mounties host McGill in CIS interlock play at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at MacAulay Field. The Mounties are looking to make their second straight AUS playoff appearance and fourth in the last six years.
Photo credit: Sabby Rochon
For more features, stats, and videos on Éric Lapointe's Mountie career, check out the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) website