Travis Lulay believes God gave him the ability to play football; he refuses to waste that gift
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Caption: Travis Lulay takes a break during a B.C. Lions practice at B.C. Place Stadium. Coaches and teammates admire Lulay’s leadership ability and character on and off the field. Photo by Nathan Rumohr / The B.C. Catholic
B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay has gone through a lot of adversity in his football career. But thanks to a strong grounding in his Catholic faith, the CFL’s 2011 Most Outstanding Player has overcome those challenges and now ranks as one of the top quarterbacks in Canadian football.
“Someone once told me that your ability is God’s gift to you and what you do with that is your gift back to Him,” Lulay told The B.C. Catholic. He said he believes God’s gift to him is the ability to play quarterback. He refuses to waste an opportunity to use that gift.
After a successful college career at Montana State University, Lulay spent three years trying to stick with an NFL team. He was signed and released twice by the Seattle Seahawks and once by the New Orleans Saints.
He signed with the Lions in 2009 as a third-string quarterback. After spending two years working hard at practice, he finally got his break and began the 2011 season as the starter.
“I maintained a belief in myself that I could play,” he said. “If I played myself off the field I’d be perfectly fine with that because I would have done everything within my power to take advantage of what I feel God has given me.”
Diligent, hard worker
“I noticed when Travis came to us in 2009 that he was diligent and a hard worker,” said Lions head coach Mike Benevides. He said Lulay would stay after practice to watch film to improve.
However the success of being a starter was short-lived for Lulay. The Lions lost their first five regular season games in 2011. But then all the hard work finally paid off, and under his leadership the Lions went on to win 11 of their final 13 games en route to winning the Grey Cup.
“Travis is a leader. If you watch our huddle and look at the players’ eyes and the way they look at him you see respect, and that’s because of the way he carries himself,” said Lions offensive line coach Dan Dorazio. “We are so blessed to have a quarterback who has his leadership skills.”
“I can’t find enough positive adjectives to describe him,” added Benevides. “A lot of times when people say that or write that it looks like embellishment. But over time people will reveal their character, and Travis Lulay has impeccable character. He’s a great quarterback and a wonderful man.”
Lions general manager Wally Buono also praised Lulay for his character and leadership.
“Travis is the kind of person you would want your daughter to bring home,” Buono said. “He’s a diligent, hardworking, intelligent person with high moral character and a good work ethic.” Buono added that he thinks part of Lulay’s great character is rooted in his spiritual upbringing.
Lulay said even with the challenges he has endured on his journey, he has never lost faith in Christ. He places a lot of that credit on his strong Catholic family. “Both sides of my family have been devoted to the Church and remain that way.”
First child this year
Lulay went to Catholic school growing up in Oregon, and it was there he met his wife Kim. The two were high school sweethearts. However their romance was tested when they both enrolled at different colleges in different states. The couple relied on their faith to bridge the distance.
“We just had a strong faith,” Lulay said. “My wife is a faith-filled woman, and we got through it together. We believed that our love was stronger then any of that other stuff.”
The couple welcomed their first child earlier this year, but like most things in Lulay’s life there was some adversity attached to this blessing. His grandmother had died three days earlier.
“It was a whirlwind of emotions,” he said. “It’s a moment of time when you ask what is life about and what am I living for?”
But Lulay takes comfort in the knowledge that his grandmother is in a better place today among the saints in heaven.
“She was the perfect example of faith. We used to joke in the family that if she didn’t have a fast track to heaven the rest of us are in trouble.”
Lulay hopes to pass on that example of faithfulness to his daughter. He knows his first vocation in life is to be a father.
“I feel like this is my biggest calling in life, raising this child. I want to give her the same opportunity to have the same relationship with Christ and the Church that I’ve had.”