Winter sports can be found in abundance in Canada. Football, not so much.
To Benjamin St-Juste, who grew up in Montreal, Canada, options like hockey, snowboarding and skiing were fine, but none of them captured his attention quite like football. After being drafted by the Washington Football Team in April, it's safe to say things worked out.
So what provided the fire that drove St-Juste to pursue the sport in a country where ice rinks far outnumber football fields? The answer is a simple one: he wanted to be like his dad.
"Growing up, I was like, 'Dad, what did you prefer: basketball or football,'" St-Juste said on "The Player's Club" podcast. "He said, 'I always wanted to play football.' So I said, 'You know what? I'm gonna rock with football.'"
It's a big statement coming from Wilbert St-Juste, considering how gifted of an athlete he was in his own right. He grew up playing basketball and even made Team Quebec and Team Canada multiple times. Wilbert's love for football didn't start until he was 18 years old, when some of his friends started playing as well.
"He was such a good athlete that he picked it up so fast," St-Juste said.
In fact, he took to the sport well enough to get the attention of the Miami Hurricanes in the mid-1980s, when the program was viewed as one of the standards of college football. The coaching staff invited him to a training camp, but a broken leg forced Wilbert to head back to Canada and end his football endeavors.
The story was enough to have an effect on St-Juste as a youth, and rather than take up hockey, which is naturally pushed on kids in the country, he paved his own way and did whatever he could to get noticed. He travelled to the United States and participated in multiple college football camps. He was eventually rated as the second-best recruit in Canada, which enticed Michigan enough to offer him a scholarship.
The Washington Football Team concludes a week of practice in preparation for a Halloween matchup with the Denver Broncos in Week 8. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team)
St-Juste later transferred to Minnesota, where he recorded 13 pass breakups and 59 tackles. His natural talent, combined with his 6-foot-3 frame, convinced Washington to take St-Juste in the third round. St-Juste quickly stood out in training camp, and he's been a key piece of the team's secondary ever since.
Wilbert didn't get to live out a dream, but he's made sure that wouldn't be the case for his son. He helped St-Juste train from the moment he decided to pick up the sport. Now, as St-Juste is becoming more comfortable in Washington's defense, both of them are seeing those results pay off.
"Right now he's really proud of me," St-Juste told The Detroit News in 2017. "That's the reason why I'm here right now because of him."
To hear more from St-Juste's appearance on "The Player's Club" podcast, download the show wherever podcasts are available.