Fresh start for football star

Receiver Giovanni Aprile moves on from last year’s off-field incident

Receiver Giovanni Aprile put up four touchdowns last weekend.
Receiver Giovanni Aprile put up four touchdowns last weekend.
Photo: 
Giovanni Aprile scores one of his four touchdowns against Laurier on Saturday.
Giovanni Aprile scores one of his four touchdowns against Laurier on Saturday.
Photo: 

The football team’s losing streak wasn’t the only thing that ended with the 58-35 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks last Saturday.

With a four-touchdown, 368-yard performance, top receiver Giovanni Aprile had his first big game after a Queen’s-imposed suspension.

Less than a week after the 2010 season ended, Aprile was involved in a fight outside Alfie’s nightclub.

The Whig-Standard reported that Aprile pled guilty to assault and escaping custody and was granted a discharge conditional upon his completion of 18 months of probation, 100 hours of community service and abstention from alcohol until 2012. If discharged, Aprile won’t have a criminal record.

“I want to put it past me,” Aprile said. “I didn’t know it, but there were a lot of people that looked up to me here ... just walking around, looking at disappointed people. I hate that feeling.”

At 6’3 and 213 pounds, Aprile is one of the biggest receivers on the team. He’s a scoring threat with incredible speed for his size. But Aprile’s also a quiet guy, who speaks carefully and thoughtfully.

Aprile was taking an extra year of high school in Toronto when he first met Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan. He’d been playing football for only a year. Sheahan said he remembers a young Aprile as unassuming and physically capable.

Aprile retained his eligibility in his first two years at Queen’s, barely seeing playing time during games. With his lack of experience, opportunities to play over veteran receivers were limited.

“I knew nothing when I came to Queen’s,” he said. “But [the coaches] didn’t give up on me.”

Aprile said veteran receivers like Scott Valberg reached out to him when he was a rookie in 2008.

“My first couple years, [Valberg] was really on my case on me getting into the books, learning the plays,” he said, adding he aspires to be an All-Canadian like Valberg.

Last year, Aprile cracked the starting lineup. A 34-reception, 599-yard, three-touchdown season earned him an invitation to the 2011 East West Bowl.

In two games this season, Aprile has tallied 11 receptions, 484 yards and four touchdowns, as well as an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Athlete of the Week honour for his game against the Golden Hawks.

Sheahan said there’s no doubt about Aprile’s chances with the Canadian Football League when he leaves Queen’s.

“If he continues to improve and get better the way he currently is, I would say a professional career is at his fingertips,” Sheahan said.

Aprile often refers to his coach as a father figure. When asked who helped him following the Alfie’s incident, he immediately named Sheahan.

“Any player who comes to play here becomes a member of the family and sometimes family members make mistakes,” Sheahan said. “I didn’t condone his actions, but deep down, [Aprile] is a very good person and he was well worth supporting.”

Sheahan said Aprile redeemed himself in the win against the Golden Hawks.

“His performance on Saturday was a great message to send back to all the people who’ve supported him throughout the last six months,” Sheahan said.

“If [Aprile] continues to perform at the level he currently is, he’ll be right up there with the best that ever played here.”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.