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Concordia alumni key to Montreal Alouettes’ 2023 Grey Cup victory

CEO Mark Weightman making sure players ‘can concentrate on their game’
March 4, 2024
By Julie Barlow, MA 94

A smiling man wearing a polo shirt and checked jacket stands next to another man wearing a black T-shirt and holding a jersey on the football field with stands in the background Alouettes’ CEO Mark Weightman (right) pictured with a fan.

“It was a tight game, but we found a way to climb back,” says Montreal Alouettes CEO Mark Weightman, BComm 96, of the team’s stunning win in the last seconds of the 2023 Grey Cup.  Along with Weightman, several Concordia alumni were part of the team that carried the Montreal Alouettes to victory on the field — with former Concordia Stingers player and Alouettes offensive lineman Kristian Matte — but also behind the scenes. 

For Weightman, the team’s 2023 Grey Cup victory was a perfect end to a challenging year. 

“We had lots of setbacks. We were not picked to win the Grey Cup. In the winter, we didn’t have an owner and our general manager was unable to re-sign all our star players. We were picked to finish last in the league in the 2023 season!”

Weightman was determined to turn things around when he returned as CEO of the Alouettes in the spring of 2023. He had been with the team in a number of different roles for 20 years, including as chief operating officer, vice-president of Operations and Events, director of Logistics, and then took a seven-year hiatus starting in 2016.

“I worked in different leagues and different countries, different cultures and different sports and I brought back a lot more tools in my toolbox after being away.”

When he returned to the Alouettes, Weightman says he set out to create alignment between the different levels of the organization. “The owner, general manager, head coach, other coaches and players all have to agree on the same values.”

Alignment fosters stability in the Alouettes organization so players can concentrate on their game, he says. “Coaches and players need to be able to focus 24 hours a day, seven days a week on football. They need to know that the organization believes in them, cares about them, and has their best interests at heart at all times.”

‘We want to put on the best show possible’

Weightman is grateful for the hard work of fellow Concordia graduates Tristan Castonguay, BSc 22, head therapist; Julie Lamoureux, BSc 22, assistant sports therapist; and Rico Morotti, GrDip 00, head video coordinator. “We wouldn’t have been able to do what we did this year without them. They put the people back together again and make sure they can play.”

A few months after the Grey Cup, Weightman is determined to keep the momentum going. “The success of the team is built on three things: We want to have an opportunity to win a championship every year. We want to put on the best show possible at the stadium on game day. And we want to play an active role in the community. Those are the winning ingredients.”

Montreal Alouettes offensive lineman Kristian Matte says winning the 2023 Grey Cup was “the ultimate high.”

Matte — who studied Leisure Studies at Concordia and played for the Concordia Stingers from 2006 to 2010 — was the first player to raise the Cup after the victory.

“I’ve been with the team for such a long time, I wanted to be first,” says Matte, who finished his 13th season with the Alouettes in 2023.

A football player dressed in uniform with the number 51 on his jersey runs onto a field “Playing for the Alouettes also meant I could stay in Montreal, which was important to me,” says Matte, who joined the team in 2010. “The club had a family feel. It really comes down to the people you spend time with.”

Matte, who grew up in the Montreal suburb of St-Hubert, started dreaming of being a professional football player when he was eight years old. “When I was ready for university, a couple of schools in the U.S. called me.” Yet the moment he met Stingers’ Coach Brad Collinson was decisive, he says. “I liked the supportive family feel at Concordia so I decided to stay in Montreal.”

Matte was recruited by the Montreal Alouettes in 2010. “Playing for the Alouettes also meant I could stay in Montreal, which was important to me. The club had a family feel. It really comes down to the people you spend time with.”

At age 38, the question of retirement is starting to come up, but Matte is not ready to leave football. “I had a great year on the personal plan, and it couldn’t have ended better. At the moment, my heart and my body are still willing and wanting to go.”

The possibility of another Grey Cup victory is highly motivating, he says. “If I get the chance, I would love to make it happen again because spending those moments with your family and your teammates is very special.”

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