Marco Iannuzzi is a Harvard & MIT grad. Official Canadian honour recipient of the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
He was the BC Lions first round draft pick and went on to 7 memorable seasons with the Lions. Playing over 125 games he won a Grey Cup championship, and was the recipient of the CFL's Tom Pate memorial award for commitment to the community.
He serves as Chairman & Director for several charities dear to him and has raised over $10M, and counting, as a live Auctioneer.
Away from football he won an episode of CBC's Canada's Smartest Person. He is Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Zenabis. Marco and his wife raise their three children (10, 7, 5yrs) in White Rock, BC.
MARCO IANNUZZI BIO
MY FULL STORY
I grew up in Calgary, AB, where I was too short, too skinny and would never have a chance at playing professional football. I know this because my junior high principal told me "Marco, you are too short, too skinny and you will never have a chance at playing professional football". Wait until I tell you the story about when I ran into him 12 year later while I was holding the Grey Cup :) #TrueStory ... I digress
One of my oldest, or very first, childhood memories is actually of playing hockey with my mother in our backyard. For it was on this day that I learned that my mother was diagnosed with MS, and that playing in the backyard with my mother would never be the same. She told me two things that day: 1) "Sometimes your body doesn't allow you to do the things you want to do, so you have to make sure that you train your mind just as hard as your body" and 2) "Even though I can't play with you today, it brings me great joy to watch you play". From that day on, she became my inspiration no matter if I was on a field, track, court or diamond....
I grew up playing all sports but was especially drawn to football after I found my fathers high school letterman jacket and learned of the great tradition and history that was St. Francis football. I grew a love for the game as I played along side a core of a dozen of my friends. In the face of many doubters, we went undefeated for all 3 straight years, 3 provincial championships, 3 rings and proved to be the most dominant high school football program in Alberta history.
I put together 50 recruitment packages with highlight reals, grades, SATs and sent them out across the NCAA with hopes of receiving a scholarship offer to remove the financial burden from my parents shoulders. When I received word back from Harvard, my jaw hit the floor. Remembering what my mother taught me as a child, I knew this would be the absolute best opportunity to train my mind as well as my body. So, I committed to Harvard University... except... they didn't commit to me. While athletics was part of my admissions profile, it is viewed no differently than playing a stringed instrument, a talent, nothing more. There was no "athlete back door" into Harvard Admissions, I needed to prove that as was well rounded and as worthy as any other applicant... After a failed attempt, off to junior football I went in Edmonton, Alberta to play for the Edmonton Huskies.
We were fortunate enough to win the CJFL national championship, and received another ring. All the while, I was building my second Harvard admissions application which included everything from re-taking SATs to online coursework to business experience as a manager in the hospitality industry. So, there I was in the admissions office once again with dozens of admissions officers picking apart my application and finally, finally, one of the proudest moments of my life... is what it would have been had I been accepted, but nope, "we regret to inform you that you have not been admitted..."
It was OK though, it was not like I had turned down several full ride scholarships across NCAA and CIS to football powerhouses in hopes of getting into Harvard... It was not like people in my life were beginning to call me a fool for all of the missed opportunities that I had let slide by because of the slim chance of getting into Harvard... It was not like even Harvard university told me point blank "it may be best if you moved on to your plan B".
Online I went to compile a top 25 list of prep schools that boasted the most students admitted into the Ivy League Universities over the last decade. Cold calling I began, until I was finally granted the opportunity to attend grade 13 at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. A week into my time at WRA and the stress of $35,000 tuition, I received a full ride scholarship to Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. With my bags packed and the cab called, the headmaster of WRA graciously offered me a full ride scholarship giving me the opportunity to remain in Hudson, Ohio.
Yes, there is more to the story, happy to share it with your corporate group as your keynote speaker: Harvard, MIT, 4 surgeries, 1st round draft pic, 7 years pro ball, start-ups, teams, winning, losing, superheros, supervillans, having an impact, being a good human being. Love to share my story with your group.