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QUEBEC, QUE – Jean-François Beaulieu Maheux might be a Francophone, but anybody could have guessed it because his name gives away as much. But what you might not know is that he’s polite and respectful, and this is what first strikes you when you two speak over the phone. Whereas many will use the familiar ‘tu,’ he prefers the formal ‘vous’ (i.e. in English, both become ‘you’).
After a strong five-year career with the Laval University Rouge et Or, Beaulieu Maheux’s days of dominant scoring in the CIS are over. Yet, don’t dare tell him that it means he’s just idle.
He leaves Laval with a degree in teaching and a certificate in social service, and intends to make the most of them. What does that entail precisely? “I am still looking at all my options,” he says. “But for sure, there will be a place for basketball.”
The sport has been a passion of his for a very long time. “My passion…has always been there, even in elementary school,” he says. “I have confidence in life and its plan for me.”
Before reaching the end however, let’s start from the beginning. Beaulieu Maheux, 25, arrived at Laval University in 2006 as a heralded recruit from Montmorency College and quickly made his mark in the CIS when he was selected as rookie of the year; for both the RSEQ and the CIS.
The awards kept on coming for Beaulieu Maheux, and he kept on honing his skills, which in turn piled up the accolades. Leading scorer and member of the 2008 CIS Final 8 all-star team. RSEQ first-team in both the 2008 and 2010 seasons. And throw in a few selections as athlete of the week for good measure.
“I only have great things to say about him,” says Jérôme Turcotte-Routhier, a teammate of Beaulieu Maheux since both were in grade nine. “He’s a guy who’s damn happy in life.”
Over his career, Beaulieu Maheux was always consistent in his scoring output, totaling more than 1,330 points over five years of CIS play. This left little doubt as to what he was on the court for; usually, it was to put the ball in the basket in any way that he could.
“(Scoring) really is my instinct and my desire,” he says. Apparently, it’s also one of his better talents.
“He is an incredible scorer,” says Turcotte-Routhier. “You can only respect that.”
Off the court, Beaulieu Maheux says he likes to keep to himself. This summer, he says that he has often gone camping and fishing. “I love nature,” he explains. Jacques Paiement, head coach at Laval University, explains that Beaulieu Maheux is a very focused and proud individual who’s intent on doing what he believes needs to be done.
Back on the court, his role changed somewhat this past season, his fifth and final in the CIS. For one, he had to become more of a vocal leader, he who had always led through his actions according to Paiement and Turcotte-Routhier.
“As a rookie, you’re more inclined to come in and simply follow,” Beaulieu Maheux says. “I then had to become one of the players who could lead the way as others had done for me.”
A new challenge since, as Paiement puts it, he had always been “more of a silent leader.”
The bigger challenge, however, lay on the defensive side of the ball. The knock on Beaulieu Maheux – because there must be a knock on everybody – had always been his defensive abilities. That’s why he was thrilled when Paiement gave him new responsibilities on the defensive side. “I truly loved it,” he says.
Of course, his new role didn’t stop him from pacing his team offensively, averaging a conference-high 18.9 points per game.
He acknowledges that the 2011 season was frustrating for Laval as they lost to Concordia in the RSEQ final, but he still has fond memories.
Yet, when NPH asks Beaulieu Maheux whether one jumps out, the player shies away.
“I am a maniac of basketball,” he says, “and Laval allowed me to have access to anything I wished for that would turn me into a complete basketball player.”
It also allowed the native of Chicoutimi (i.e. just a few hours of Quebec City) to stay close to his family, which was very important to him.
Beaulieu Maheux then praises Laval University for having allowed him to fully immerse himself in basketball. The most skeptical might say that he’s supposed to say just that, but NPH gets the feeling that he genuinely means it.
“Basketball has educated me and has kept me healthy,” says Beaulieu Maheux. “It is a lesson in life and a way of growing up.”
Just like that, the interview ends. He, the player, thanks you, the reporter, for having contacted him. You were just about to do the exact same thing. He might have done most of the talking over the last 15 minutes, “but you’ve been listening”… that’s what he’d probably say.
PHOTO COURTESY: YAN DOUBLET