Annie Larouche Montreal Alliance CEBL

Montreal Alliance’s VP is dreaming big ahead of the team’s inaugural season

We spoke to Annie Larouche about aiming for a trophy with the newest entry in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

Annie Larouche, the vice president of operations for the Montreal Alliance, wants to bring a championship trophy to the city in the team’s forthcoming inaugural season. The Alliance is the city’s new professional basketball team, set to play their first season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League this coming spring. 

“There’s lots to do until May 2022,” says Larouche ahead of the team’s debut. It’s an ambitious goal but luckily the Alliance are in very good hands.

Larouche has deep ties to the city’s basketball history. She was a part of the cheerleading squad for the Dragons, a Montreal basketball team that launched and subsequently folded in the early ’90s. 

For 25 years, Larouche worked with the Montreal Alouettes in various capacities such as Director of the Alouettes Foundation, cheerleading team and the Alumni Association. It is through the latter that she met Mike Morreale, a two-time CFL champion who now serves as CEO and commissioner of the CEBL. Shortly after helping guide Morreale towards some community programs in the city, Larouche was offered a job with the team.

Despite her long tenure with the Als, taking on this new opportunity was a no-brainer for Larouche. “I thought about it for about 20 minutes.”

Next came the months-long process of building a team identity, something that the VP describes as a community collaboration.

“We did a survey a couple of months ago and we got over 1,500 responses. Two of the questions were, What should the name be, and Why. You have to keep in mind that we needed a bilingual name that was written exactly the same in French and English. So a lot of the names were eliminated, right from the start.” 

“Montreal Alliance was a perfect representation of the community in Montreal,” asserts Larouche. In the eyes of the organization, it was important for the team to incorporate “a sense of belonging, pride and diversity, [building] bridges between the community.”

Annie Larouche, Montreal Alliance VP

The team logo features a wolf in classic blue, red and white Montreal sports colours. On its forehead is a fleur-de-lis, allowing the Alliance to stand out as the CEBL’s sole Quebec franchise.

“We asked ourselves, What animal represents an alliance? So of course, it’s packs; hyenas, coyotes, wolves. In the survey, we had a lot of wolves and we have wolves in Montreal… a little bit more than hyenas, thank God!” she jokes. This pack mentality is further accentuated in the team’s slogan, #BecomeAnAlly.

Nearly three decades after Montreal’s first attempt at a basketball team, the Alliance will play in the same arena as the Dragons: the Verdun Auditorium.

“We wanted a venue that was about 3,500 to 5,000 seats and on the island. We wanted something accessible. It’s right by the Champlain Bridge, there is a metro two minutes away and a bicycle path right behind the auditorium. For us, it was a perfect fit.”

Aside from championship aspirations, Larouche wants to build a winning culture of community with the Alliance. The support from Mayor Valérie Plante and Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau at the team’s recent press conference has made a world of difference.

“They’re not promoters of professional sports, what they understand is the impact of this team in their city. Socially and economically, think about it: the impact is huge. For our youth, it gives them inspiration, or a reason to think, ‘Maybe one day, I can be a professional basketball player in my own city.’ [Montreal-born NBA players] Lu Dort, Chris Boucher or Khem Birch — they’re great examples for our kids. They’re allowed to dream big now.” ■

This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Cult MTL. 

For more on the Montreal Alliance, please visit the team’s CEBL website.

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