Ottawa Redblacks: Game Plan to Success

Now that the Canadian Football League (CFL) is back in town and the Ottawa Redblacks rule the field at TD Place Stadium, football fever has taken hold. Already, the new professional sports team has captured the imaginations of fans young and old.  Team gear, depth charts, game recaps, crowd selfies and the #redblacks and #RNation hashtags are popular, and who hasn’t heard of Big Joe, the team mascot?

But you might not have heard of Game Plan to Success—yet. It’s a school presentation developed by the Redblacks to inspire and teach students a three-step strategy to succeed. The program is designed for elementary school students in kindergarten to Grade 8 and spokesman Mark Sluban says, “The core focus is Grades 4 to 6, although there’s something for everybody.” While Game Plan to Success brings Redblacks players and the mascot, Big Joe, into schools, its focus isn’t restricted to football or sports. This lesson is all about the goal-setting process and how to put it into action, whether kids dream of one day being quarterbacks or CEOs or dentists. The intent is to provide students with practical life skills to help them achieve their goals and the motivational speaker leading the sessions is Ottawa’s Mark Hatfield. He has walked this talk, since he had a successful career in both the NFL and CFL, playing for the Miami Dolphins, the Houston Oilers, the Detroit Lions and the B.C. Lions. Now a professional firefighter, he is also a sought-after speaker who tours schools with a motivating message about setting and achieving goals.

Kids are listening. Mark Sluban says Game Plan to Success was presented in some local schools last spring, before the Redblacks’ first season got underway. “It was extraordinarily well received,” he notes. “There was a fantastic response. Now it’s just going to get bigger and better.” For details about Game Plan to Success, see


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