It’s hard to miss Xavier Thibault. Even on the football field, where identities can blend into a huddle of helmets and pads, Xavier, at 6’5” and 240 pounds, stands out high above the rest.
“His effort is relentless and infectious to everyone on the field,” said Jacob Rivers, Williston’s Co-Defensive Coordinator. “When you see a guy like that giving 100 percent on every play, you know what’s expected of you and that anything less is unacceptable.”
Aside from a stint in 7th grade when he was “short and skinny and couldn’t tackle,” Xavier quickly grew into a formidable force at at defensive end, a position he’s played since beginning his football career in 4th grade in his hometown of Quebec City, Canada.
Yet despite his size and power, what really distinguishes Xavier is his leadership qualities and singular ambition—and not just on the field.
When he’s not showcasing his ferocious play, Xavier, 19, is also one of five Senior Class Representatives. Class President Anabelle Farnham ’18 and fellow reps Natalie Romain ’18, Oliver Lawrence ’18, and Ellie Scott ’18, meet once a week to plan activities for the class of 2018 and discuss any concerns students have; the group acts as both a social-planning organization and a liaison between students and administration.
This is Xavier’s first time on the leadership council. Joining the group seemed to be a natural fit for Xavier, who said he “just wanted to get involved in something.”
“Last year people were complaining that not enough was done [for the students],” Xavier said. “I think people thought there weren’t enough activities, or what was planned wasn’t all right with everyone.” Acting on behalf of his fellow seniors gives Xavier “more involvement in the school,” he said.
This responsibility comes in addition to the three AP classes Xavier takes: AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, and AP French.
It stands to reason Xavier would struggle balancing his rigorous academic schedule with daily practices, lifting sessions, class representative responsibilities, and growing attention from division one football programs. Xavier, however, approaches it all with characteristic stoicism and ease.
“I just have to work, plan ahead, and make sure it all fits together,” he said. He said as long as he stays organized, “I’m all right.”
“[I] mostly sacrifice sleep, but other than that, it’s pretty manageable,” he said.
Top college football programs aren’t snoozing; Xavier’s already received offers from Columbia Bryant to join their football teams next year. He hasn’t committed anywhere yet; he said he’s looking at Brown, and Stanford, among other programs.
As expected for a student-athlete with such a demanding schedule, Xavier said in his near future, football shares top billing with academics. “It’s a springboard and an end goal,” he said. “I want to play competitive football but I also want to get into a good academic school.”
Xavier said he plans to study medicine or engineering wherever he ends up next year. This drive, both in the classroom, makes Xavier a natural role model for his two younger brothers, Thomas, 17 (a junior at Williston, also on the football team), and 12-year-old Loic. Xavier also has an older brother, Alex, 21.
As our interview concluded, Xavier stood up to head back to class. He mentioned he would be headed to the trainer later to address a bruised knee and the subsequent fluid buildup. He noticed this reporter wince when he mentioned the needle required to drain the fluid, and, with the same quiet confidence, brushed off the notion of any pain it might cause. “I’m not worried,” he said.