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Grey Cup champion Matt Black talks to UofGH about resilience

Matt Black addresses UofGH students

In his most recent season in the Canadian Football League, Toronto Argonauts defensive back Matt Black found himself released from the team and left to watch the Argos play on TV, alongside his good friend and University of Guelph-Humber Kinesiology instructor Jonathan Hood. He would be re-signed by the Argos only a week later, and months later, Black managed the pivotal interception in the final seconds of Toronto’s Grey Cup victory over Calgary.

So when Black recently visited the University of Guelph-Humber for a series of inspiring lectures – even bringing along the Grey Cup trophy and touring it around the campus for excited students – his talk focused on the theme of summoning resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks.

“For me, this past year was a testament to the resiliency that I have developed over the course of my life and my ability to deal with failure,” Black said. “Now, I don’t perceive failure the way that I used to. I don’t look at failure in my life as a negative. I look at it as a lesson. If I take what I’m supposed to from a loss, I’m going to have an opportunity to better myself and to be prepared for the next time I’m in that situation.”

“I encourage you to have that same outlook because for me, since I have had that mentality over the last five years, my outlook on life has changed drastically.”

Black has played 120 career CFL games – all as a member of the Toronto Argonauts – since being drafted in 2009. He managed to complete his university degree the same year.

The two-time Grey Cup champion has also been lauded for his community work. In 2016 he won the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award for his volunteer contributions and overall character.

As he explained during his lecture, Black didn’t first discover resilience on the football field. In fact, a childhood struggle with dyslexia had a life-changing effect on the way Black dealt with setbacks and hardship.

“I was diagnosed with dyslexia in Grade 2. For a lot of my life, that was a stigma,” Black shared. “Now when I look back, that’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me because it taught me resiliency. It’s easy to walk through life with success, but it’s a lot harder to walk through life when you’re facing failure.

“Dyslexia taught me the value of hard work. I had to learn to read and write. I had to do so much extra work, but those lessons for me were transferred to every other facet of my life.”

Black also discussed his long friendship with Hood. Hood, a PhD candidate and motivational speaker, played six seasons in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts.

Previously, Hood has taken his UofGH students on an inspiring tour of the Argonauts’ training facility. He also runs the Ahead of the Game mentoring program at the University of Guelph-Humber, which gives him the opportunity to meet repeatedly with a small group of students for sessions that blend real-life stories, interactive group work, discussion and reflection.

"The GTA is full of 'hometown' heroes – people who have overcome a tremendous amount of adversity to reach success. This also includes students right here at the University of Guelph-Humber,” Hood said. “Sometimes we forget the strength and resilience that is inside of us to conquer our mountains.

“By bringing in someone like Matt Black I hope to have the students connect with his story and remember that whatever they are going through there is something special inside of them that will help them overcome, just as he did.”

Matt BlackMatt Black's Grey Cup ringUofGH students listen to Matt BlackJonathan Hood addresses studentsMatt Black speakingMatt Black meeting with studentsMatt Black poses with Swoop and UofGH facultyMatt Black poses with a studentMatt Black with a student and an Argos helmetMatt Black and Jonathan Hood with the Grey CupLarge group poses with the Grey CupDr. Leslie Auger with Matt Black and Jonathan Hood