Rosie Awori – LJI Reporter

As fitness centres and gyms remain closed due restrictions brought on by the pandemic, program directors are forced to come up with innovative ways to stay relevant.
For many the way forward is with online classes.
One of those who has chosen that path is Raymond Ndjonok Tonye, or “Coach Ray” as he is famously known.
Through his organisation, XC10 the former NCAA Division 1 player he is launching a new all-rounded coaching program for youngsters aged 12 and upwards aimed at putting them on a path to getting into college and maybe playing football professionally.
“I decided to launch a new program because I just felt that the kids were doing well athletically but not really doing well in school or learning about leadership.” Coach Ray told the CONTACT in a recent telephone interview.
“So this this program offers me an opportunity to mentor them on and off the field. I built a whole leadership program for athletes. I teach them how to balance their studies and how to go through the college recruiting process, so they can have their school paid for like I had.”
Coach Ray’s program pushes student-athletes through three phases: personal and athletic development; academic planning and perseverance and the college football recruitment process.
A former standout from CEGEP Vieux Montreal, Tonye attended to the University of Northern Colorado on full scholarship playing NCAA Division I Football.

With 20 years plus of experience in a competitive sports environment as a student-athlete, coach and mentor, he’s seen it all and understands the goals, perspective and reality of parents and student-athletes alike.
He knows how to encourage and position athletes to achieve their fullest potential.
And although it has been just two years since the program was established, Coach Ray already has a roster of his students who have found success outside of Montreal including, Elijah Adams who now plays for the University of Calgary Dinos and Justine Belanger who now plays for University of Sherbrooke among others.
Confident of his abilities and the environment in which he works, Coach Ray has a keen eye for the right prospects. He says he’s not looking for the most talented students, he’s looking for attitude and commitment: “You just have to be committed to becoming something more, that what I look for.”
“We take a maximum of 25 kids and we have them commit to showing up before school they would be here by 6:15 am and ready to go for the face to face physical training. And now every week I am giving them a course online via zoom, on leadership, academic coaching, or college recruiting. And once a month I’ll be bringing on a college coach or a former professional player so that the kids can ask questions as these are people who can potentially recruit them in the future so this can help them know everything about the process.”
Coach Ray means business and his students know this.
He is in contact with the schools where the students attend in order to track their performance.
“We follow the academic year, you can’t just sign in when you want when come in you are committed. We help them with time management, we are checking to make sure their homework is done, we are close with their families to find out how they are doing at home. “

The program is football-centred, but Coach Ray hopes to build this into a sports school.
“Eventually, the goal is to have this become a school by 2023,” he says.
He is inviting parents to sign-up their aspiring athletes for the fall session that kicks off this September.

More information can be found at www.xc10sportsleadership.com