Jock Climie Explains Why Balance and Commitment are Important for Achieving Greatness

Jock Climie | (Retired) Wide Receiver | Montreal Alouettes

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Understanding how to balance all those competing interests and prioritizing them as needed in order to be successful in all three areas is a skill that I have used and will continue to use for the rest of my life.

Jock Climie

(Retired) Wide Receiver

Montreal Alouettes

× The interview with Jock Climie was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

You were a very successful player at Queen’s University, having broken the record at the time in 1988 for receiving yards in a single season and were the conference’s nominee for the Most Outstanding Player nationally. You were doing a law degree while playing at Queen’s, which is a highly reputable and demanding program. How did you find it was to balance excelling in academics and football?

Being a student-athlete at Queens set the groundwork for the rest of my life. I had to learn how to combine the rigours of playing high-level football, the pressure and time commitment associated with undergraduate studies and then law school, all while existing in an environment where socializing and partying were a constant draw.

Understanding how to balance all those competing interests and prioritizing them as needed in order to be successful in all three areas is a skill that I have used and will continue to use for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to student athletes currently who want to achieve a high level of success in football and school?

The best advice I can give is to understand where your focus needs to be at any given moment. Once you have a plan….stick to it.

One commitment I made in my last year of undergrad and throughout law school was to treat my day as a job. It is so easy to get caught up in the habit of hanging out with friends, sleeping half the day away or watching TV during the day. You tell yourself you will catch up at night. But then you have practice and after that, you are exhausted or being enticed by friends or a girlfriend to go out and have some fun.

If you get caught up in that trap, either your performance on the field or in the classroom is going to suffer. Stay focused and commit to a plan. Do not let family and friends have you to deviate from your plan.

During your CFL career, you continued to finish your degree during the off-season while still playing football between the summer and fall. What were the advantages and challenges to finishing your program in the midst of a professional football career?

The biggest advantage was being able to experience life as a student and life as a professional athlete all in the same year. While the transition was always quite jarring, within a couple of weeks I was adapted to my new reality and embracing all that came with it. Getting back into the classroom and seeing all of my law school friends every January was always an unexpected pleasure.

School was never something I particularly enjoyed or looked forward to until I started combining it with a football career. Being able to go from an activity that was mostly physical to something highly intellectual combined two aspects of my life that were very important to me.

However, it was always challenging to be taken seriously by the people in both worlds. My teammates were often skeptical of my ability to succeed on the football field when I was not spending my entire off-season training the way most of the guys did. For my law school classmates, some questioned my ability to succeed in such a highly cerebral environment when I had just spent six months knocking heads on a football field.

You were a panelist for the CFL on TSN from 2002-2018, having worked alongside an outstanding crew of former players including Chris Schultz, Matt Dunigan and Milt Stegall. When did you know that you wanted to transition from playing in the CFL to being a TV Analyst? What were the three biggest things you learned as a player that helped you with providing analysis?

I had never given broadcasting much thought until I got a call out of the blue from TSN asking if I would consider coming for an audition. I was still considering playing one more year but once I decided to hang it up for good, I accepted their offer and what followed was a very rewarding 17 year career as a football analyst.

My career as a broadcaster was aided by a number of factors. One was frankly my training as a lawyer. Lawyers not only have to be able to articulate the thoughts they have in their heads, but they also have to do so succinctly and in a way that grabs the listener’s attention.

The second was how I approached the game of football. I took a cerebral approach to the game. I wanted to know what everyone on the field was doing, not just my position.

Third, was nothing more complicated than a pure love of the game. If you have a real passion for something it is far easier to spend hours every week talking about it.

Who is the most influential coach you had in your career that helped you with understanding the game, and what was the main thing you took away from them?

My head coach at Queens was the late, legendary Doug Hargreaves.

He was an old school coach who had been in the game for decades but he knew how to connect with us in a way that still amazes me. We respected him and strove to earn his praise and trust like no one I have ever known. He taught us not only how to be great football players and students but also how to be good people. I learned that leading a balanced, disciplined life is the path to real fulfillment and happiness.

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was outstanding to interview former Alouette receiver and CFL on TSN analyst Jock Climie. I have been watching his highly intellectual analysis of CFL football on TV ever since I became a fan of the sport. Being able to hear about how he was able to build a dually successful career in law and football simultaneously is inspiring for all student-athletes. His bar-none work ethic and commitment to excellence show in the work he has accomplished physically and intellectually. I am grateful to have had the chance to learn these insightful lessons from Jock!

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