'Coach Paul' of South Ottawa Mustangs honoured by NFL for making a difference
The Ottawa Citizen
Sunday December 7, 2014
More than 100 quality submissions from across Canada on volunteerism and goodwill in this contest, but in the final tally the race wasn’t even close.
South Ottawa Mustangs football coach Paul Howard was handed over the NFL Youth Coach of the Year Award Sunday afternoon in front of a wide-smiling crowd at Real Sports Bar and Grill in the ByWard Market.
“By a wide margin,” answered Brian Findlay of NFL Canada when asked how far Howard finished ahead of the field. A panel of national journalists gave the nod to the Mustangs’ coach.
“Coach Paul” as he’s known by his players, their parents and community leaders in South Ottawa, is a volunteer coach who helps steer underprivileged kids clear of crime through his football program.
“It’s nice to see a community jump in and we got a lot of submissions from (parents) writing in . . . different anecdotes about how Paul made a difference in their life,” said Findlay. “It really resonated. He’s from there, he’s a successful guy who could be coaching football in other (more affluent) places, but he chooses to focus on his community where he knows he can make a difference.”
Paul Howard, the NFL Youth Coach of the Year in Canada, poses for a photo with St. Louis Rams cheerleaders at a ceremony in Ottawa on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Patrick Doyle / Ottawa Citizen
“I was in awe when I heard,” said Howard. “I thought back to what all my coaches taught me about football, but also about handling people.”
The first call he made was to his two sons.
“They were just jumping up and down and going crazy,” Howard said with a grin.
The award is in its 16th year; it’s the first time an Ottawa entry took home top prize.
With the honour comes a financial plum as well. NFL Canada and BlackRock Canada will dole out a combined $10,000 to the Mustangs. The money will be used for equipment and bursaries.
“In terms of the bursary, I think we’ve got something bigger here to talk about,” Howard said. “Potentially we could use it as seed money to see it grow. That way, down the road, we could use it to send a few of our kids to college.”
Paul Howard, the NFL Youth Coach of the Year in Canada, poses for a photo with his team, the National Capital Amateur Football Association South Ottawa Tyke Mustangs at a ceremony in Ottawa on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Patrick Doyle / Ottawa Citizen