Knights’ receiver passing on bong, bottle
Football: Riley Bahl helped by Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017 10:43 am
A Holy Trinity Academy Knight has gone from reaching for the bong to stretching for a pass, throwing a block and becoming a student leader.
“I fell heavy into drugs and alcohol for a little bit,” the 18-year-old Riley Bahl said. “I found myself getting kicked out of a number of schools and stuff like that.”
He wasn’t at school last Thursday, and no, he wasn’t asked to leave HTA. In fact, he was one of the students representing the Okotoks high school as one of its Student Champions at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre — he and other students were learning to champion the rights of students.
“This is something where I learn how to bring people together – try to stop school from being so cliquey and gossipy,” Bahl said. “I actually just want to be of service to other people. I feel that will most benefit my ability to stay sober.”
Bahl put on the football cleats for the first time this season — why not try out a healthy new thing.
“It was kind of an impulsive decision,” Bahl said. “I’ve always been active, last year I tried triathlon, I played hockey throughout my youth and I thought why not try football?”
Making impulsive decisions and trying some dangerous things had him heading for rehab, not the gridiron.
He pins the blame on himself.
“I wouldn’t call them struggles because it was self-inflicted — of my own doing,” he stressed. “I started drinking when I was 12, I started smoking pot when I was 14, experimenting with coke and MDMA (ecstasy). I smoked up on a regular basis when I was 16 and 17.”
He bounced in and out of detox and rehab facilities before entering the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre.
“That was the one that got me sober — I’ve been sober for close to two years now,” Bahl said. “How did it (AARC) help me?
“It taught me to live like a proper human being… I was completely delusional. I had a completely backward mindset. And they taught me how to change that.”
Bahl was named recently in a Calgary Herald article concerning the AARC 25th anniversary. AARC was all a part of his life journey of highs and lows.
“I don’t regret the past,” Bahl said. “I love my life today and I don’t think I would change anything. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.”
As for the future, who can tell? However, if his grades are any indication, the sky is the limit. He has honours with distinction in the majority of his classes, including 100 per cent in Physics 20. His other classes are Chem 30, Social 30 and Math 30.
“I was always a smart student, but I didn’t try at all,” he said. “While I was on drugs, I was high in class… That’s kind of why they kicked me out. I wouldn’t want a student like that in my school.”
He’s been welcomed with open arms at HTA this year.
Not only is he a student champion, he’s also seen plenty of action with the 5-0 Knights on the gridiron.
“Football is something, I enjoy being at school for… I think it has improved my grades,” Bahl said.
Bahl has proved to be an inspiration to the Knights, according to head coach Matt Hassett.
“It’s an amazing story how he can turn his life around and is helping others,” Hassett said. “It speaks volumes to his character… He doesn’t hide it. I almost took a step back because it is such a personal story. It shows maturity beyond his years.”