Name: Kwaku Boateng
University: Wilfrid Laurier
Hometown: Milton, Ont.
High school / Cegep: Bishop Reding CHS
Position: Defensive Lineman
Academic program: Business
Year of eligibility: 4
Key stats 2015: Tied for third in the conference with nine tackles for a loss…tied for eighth in the conference in sacks with four…14 career sacks tied for fourth in school history
Awards & honours (since start of CIS career): 2016 East West Bowl Participant, 2015 CIS Second Team All-Canadian, 2015 OUA J.P. Metras Award, 2015 OUA First Team All-Star, 2014 CIS Academic All-Canadian, 2013 OUA All-Rookie, 2013 CIS Academic All-Canadian
It's a year of high expectations and uncertain conclusions for Kwaku Boateng. The fourth year business major and defensive lineman for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks is looking at the same pressure of university students finishing their undergraduate degrees, and adding the thrill of chasing his professional football dream as he enters his draft year.
None of that pressure stops Boateng from flashing a broad smile as he explains he is a man with a plan: "The goal is to perform well this last season, get a chance to get drafted—hopefully high…If football goes well, that's route one. If football doesn't go well for any reason or I no longer want to pursue that goal, then it's just finishing my education and going into an accounting firm because I want to be an accountant."
Last year the Milton, Ont., native was a CIS Second Team All-Canadian, OUA First Team All-Star, and awarded the OUA J.P Metras Lineman of the Year Award, and Boateng is keeping his eyes on the prize again this year. "It's all about taking no plays off" he said. "It's not so much about slacking necessarily, but about fatigue. So I'm working on [eliminating] fatigue by taking training camp a step further…so that when it's actually show time, I'm not fatigued, I don't have to take those plays off and I can give it 100 percent."
When the Golden Hawks take the field for their home opener on August 28th, the senior defensive end has a big-picture goal: "Win it again." Boateng said. "Win [Lineman of the Year] again and win the national one: that's the goal. To be the most dominant lineman in the league."
But the grind doesn't stop on the gridiron for this two-time CIS Academic All-Canadian. "Becoming an All-Canadian on the field is amazing, but to also be an Academic All-Canadian is even better" explained Boateng. "Canadian football provides a standard that people don't really realize until they compare it to American football. In America, you can be an All-Star, but if you don't make it to the next level—the NFL—and you don't have the education behind you, you have nothing to fall back on. So I love that about Canadian sport, they force you to get a good education and even a certain grade to be able to participate."
Success in the classroom is a big part of the legacy Boateng wants to leave behind when his time at Laurier is done, he added, saying, "When someone thinks about me or talks about me I want them to think of me not just as an athlete, but as a student-athlete. I've worked hard on and off the field, and would like to be remembered for both."
Managing a student schedule and football team commitments can be quite the balancing act, but manageable according to Boateng. "Be organized at all times. Even if you are behind, as long as you have a game-plan to succeed, you'll be fine. It's similar to how our coaches have a game plan for each new team. Even if we lost the game before, the point is to succeed in the future, so you have to create a game plan and go day by day to obtain that."
Taking ownership over your goals and the game plan to get there ease the uncertainties of the unpredictable future, Boateng affirmed, "It's all about being responsible."