Know Your Athlete, Sports

Know Your Athlete: William Rouleau

As a kid, William Rouleau was always a fan of sports. His natural athleticism made things easy: Golf, tennis, baseball. Whatever sport he was put into, Rouleau excelled––except for hockey. 

“I first got into hockey when I was about three, four years old,” Rouleau told The McGill Tribune. “Wasn’t the greatest, probably one of the worst out there. I was kind of a lunatic as a kid, too. I didn’t really care about the puck, just saying hi to my parents in the stands.” 

However, this quandary didn’t last long. Rouleau started to get serious about hockey around age 10, when the goals started to come with ease. 

“I was the youngest player on my team that year,” Rouleau explained. “And still, I think I was in the top three scoring leaders in [the whole] league, and then a year after, I was the first, and then just in general, I had a better understanding, like, oh, I’m good at [hockey].” 

Unlike many of his peers, Rouleau never considered playing in the NCAA—playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) was always the goal. And despite the difficulty of moving to Rouyn-Noranda—10 hours away from his home in Saint-Basile—at just 17 years old, he doesn’t regret it for a second. 

“Surprisingly, in my first year [with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies], I was part of a team that broke multiple records,” Rouleau said. “We won the President’s Trophy, the Memorial Cup. We set a record for the most wins in a season, we tied a record of most consecutive wins of 25 in a row [….] I had the chance to play with such great players.” 

His time with the Huskies also gifted him the most memorable moment of his career: A game-tying goal against the Halifax Mooseheads in the 2019 Memorial Cup round-robin. 

“That was a good way to start the career,” Rouleau said with a grin. 

The decision not to pursue professional hockey was tough for Rouleau, especially considering his remarkable final year in the QMJHL with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, where he racked up 27 goals and  34 assists.

“Playing pro means there is a lot of uncertainty,” Rouleau explained. “I’ve always had an interest in my schoolwork and in my first year of Junior, I talked with one of the guys that’s here [Matthieu Gagnon], and we talked about how coming [to McGill] together would be amazing, so it was always in my head.” 

The busy travel and playing schedule Rouleau maintained throughout his Junior career meant school was often a secondary priority, but he has found the academic side of McGill, where he studies finance, just as enjoyable as the athletic. 

“I like my program, but to see how competitive it is around here [….] It’s scary. But as a competitor, I like it. I like that challenge of being good at something other than hockey.” 

But the transition to McGill proved no easy task. Not only did Rouleau, a francophone, have to play on a majority English-speaking team for the first time, but he had to adjust his playing style—he wasn’t in the QMJHL anymore. 

“There is a big difference just in the way the format is because you don’t play as many teams or games [in USPORTS],” Rouleau said. “The physical aspect of the game is so different. The speed is different. It’s a lot tougher to play in this league than it was playing Junior.” 

Rouleau found what he missed the most from the QMJHL was the big crowds at games, mentioning the Carnival game as one of his most memorable moments of the season. 

Despite the adjustments, Rouleau found the Redbirds to be more than welcoming. Teammate Max Blanchard even piqued an off-ice interest for him. 

“He’s so good at guitar, insanely good,”  Rouleau said. “He played for me at the start of the year [….] [and] I picked it up right after.” 

After a promising first year where he took home USPORTS All-Rookie honours, Rouleau looks forward to next year with the ‘Birds. To conclude the interview, Rouleau answered the all-important question: What is your favourite Taylor Swift song? 


Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue