June 4, 2021

Ethan Makonzo’s long journey is a great example of determination

On June 2, linebacker Ethan Makonzo signed with the Alouettes, almost a month after being drafted by the team. On the phone, the imposing athlete, product of the Université de Montréal Carabins, is proud. He speaks emotionally like a little boy fulfilling his lifelong dream. “I am native of Montreal and I will have the chance to wear the Alouettes’ jersey. It is unbelievable. I feel so much excitement with all these local guys on the team, it’s even more special. I want to set an example for the black and Congolese community. I want our fans to be proud of me, and the team when they watch our games».

Ethan is of Congolese origin, and he worked hard to get where he is.

In his first season as a rookie in 2013 with the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal Spartiates he learned the rule book and played on special teams. In his next two seasons in 2014 and 2015, he did not get back on the field. His grades were not good enough, and his teachers wanted him to improve before giving him the green light. To remain involved in the sport he loves so much, he was a coach in 2015 with his former high school, Dalbé-Viau, after a year of playing with the Génie de l’ETS where the level of play was not comparable to the CEGEP level.

It was in 2016 that he raised his academic average and that the school allowed him to adorn the Spartiates jersey again. He was successful enough to receive offers from U SPORTS’ schools. After many considerations, he chose the Carabins and joined his former high school Coach Fabrice Raymond, a staff member at the Université de Montréal. His rookie season was a learning experience on special teams and he became familiar with the position of safety.

A year later, he tore his pectoral muscle at the first practice. He was sidelined for eight long weeks. He chose to stay on the team and be active by training lightly and following a long physiotherapy program.

“My motivation in the gym was to get back on a field. In physio, I followed my program closely to come back quickly,” says Makonzo. Toward the end of the year he got back on the roster but didn’t feel comfortable and lost his confidence.

He consulted members of the medical team and they found that his injury hadn’t healed and that his cartilage was badly damaged. The verdict was devastating; the doctors confirmed that his rehabilitation would last six months. “I was super disappointed but at the same time, I was relieved because I knew why I was so hesitant of the field.”

Watching NFL games, he was inspired by Troy Polamalu and Brian Dawkins. He scrutinized them to keep his focus on football. He returned in 2019, and after one game he was already a starter by week two. He was elected to the RSEQ All-Star Team. Doubts were dispelled, Ethan Makonzo was back…

With a step back, Ethan is proud of his road even if the pavement was not always dotted with flowers… “School has never been easy for me, but I never dropped out, and I studied in youth intervention in university, I am proud of my path.”

Working as a supervisor at his former high school Dalbé-Viau, the Lachine native is a great example for students who follow him. He is a proud athlete, just like the kids he meets. The slogan of these students is: “The guys of Dalbé-Viau we are everywhere.” Ethan does not forget where he comes from… He gives back to his alma mater, and if some are struggling in one area of their life, the Alouettes player will be