News Story

Prominent Mormon Athlete Credits Faith and Family for Success

During a half-time ceremony in Montreal on July 29, star athlete Ben Cahoon was celebrated by friends and fans as the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes retired his #86 jersey. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cahoon remarked, “There are plenty of big wins and losses that quickly come to mind but also so many wonderful friends and experiences that really dominate the memory of my years in Montreal.” The star slotback receiver credits his faith and supportive family for his illustrious football career.

Cahoon, a three-time Grey Cup winner, played for the Alouettes from 1998 to 2011. He broke many records and won numerous awards, including Most Outstanding Canadian in the CFL twice and CFL All-Star three times. In his final year, he became the Canadian Football League’s all-time leader in pass receptions, and he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Long-time friend Fatima Glowa was at the ceremony. “The minute Ben stepped onto the field,” she said, “you could feel the love. Everyone started chanting ‘Cahoon, Cahoon, Cahooooon!’ There was a sea of #86 jerseys throughout the stadium. ... What impressed me is that while Ben doesn’t speak French, he thanked the crowd with not just a “merci” but a very thoughtful message in French of thanks and gratitude to his fans for always making him and his family feel welcome in Montreal while he played for the Alouettes. The speeches were not only about his many football accomplishments but also about what a role model he was on and off the field to his fans and teammates. A true gentleman.”

Football taught Cahoon important life lessons about respect, working with others and finding balance. ”I learned from Marc Trestman that you don't need many team rules. ‘Show respect’ pretty much covers everything,” he said. “I really came to learn that in football, all 11 players are interconnected. Every single one of us was dependent on each of the other 10 guys doing their job.” He also learned from Don Matthews that “you don't have to take the game of football so seriously and that it is important to balance having fun with work. If something we were doing wasn't critical, he wanted us to be laughing and having a good time.”

In a sport that can take a brutal toll on an athlete’s body, Ben credits his strict observance of the Word of Wisdom, a Mormon health code that advises against the use of coffee, tea, alcohol, smoking and drugs and promotes a healthy lifestyle, to giving him the edge he needed to succeed on the field. When speaking of the health code he stated, “There is actual power that comes from following those guidelines. I witnessed how athletes who were much more physically gifted than I ever was could not sustain a high level of play because either their bodies, or minds, or both would not consistently perform over time.” He continued, “I have no doubt that the Word of Wisdom gave me a competitive advantage and was a huge key to any success that I might have achieved.”

Cahoon will also be remembered for his devotion to family and his Mormon faith. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cahoon balanced his professional football career with family and faith. He attributes much of his success as a football player to his supportive wife, Kim: “I learned quickly that having a supportive wife helped make me a better football player” He reminisced about  the importance of spending time together as a family, and to this day, family bike rides on Sunday afternoons are one of their favourite things to do.

Although Ben retired in 2010, his many fans, friends and fellow Church members had the opportunity to pay tribute to the great football player, husband, father and faithful Latter-day Saint on the home turf that held so many special memories.

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