MONTREAL, APRIL 1, 2011 – If there’s one piece of advice you need before sitting down with Alex Ferla-Coirazza at Paul VI High School in Ahuntsic, it’s that you better have a good grasp of your hockey.
Ferla-Coirazza, a student at the special needs school, is like millions who have grown up idolizing the Montreal Canadiens. While his staunch passion freezes over while talking about Michael Cammalleri’s stealth moves or Carey Price’s stellar save percentage, he’s aiming not to be the second coming of Saku Koivu, but the next Pierre Houde.
“Just listening to commentators like Pierre Houde on RDS or Don Cherry on CBC makes me happy,” said Ferla-Coirazza. “I love sports, I grew up watching the Canadiens and I’ve always wanted to do a broadcast and be a broadcaster. Everything about it excites me. The comments, the way they interact with the fans, how everybody laughs, talks and the ideas that they come up with.”
Having a dream is one thing, but recently, Ferla-Coirazza put his money where his mouth is. With the help of teacher Matthew Goulet, together, the two worked on an audition tape highlighting his skills.
“I always do the commentary at home with my microphone!” he says. “My parents and cousins listen to me and always tell me that it’s super. Since they liked it, I came here and Mr. Goulet and I worked on it and we thought it was good. It took time, adjusting my voice level and speed was hard. It was not an easy process, but I really enjoyed it.”
“With anything, there has to be a natural instinct and intuition and real passion for what you’re doing. Alex has had that from the beginning and it’s really easy to make something good when you start with that,” said Goulet. “We worked on forming a script based on a video game, slowing things down a lot and making things exciting, ensuring that he doesn’t make everything exciting. It all made sense to Alex and everybody who listened to it, it all fell into place.”
Throughout the process, Ferla-Coirazza kept thinking of his idol Houde, whose passion and excitement during his play-by-play is something which he tried to echo in his audition.
“The way he says “C’est la but!” is amazing, his passion is perfect,” said Ferla-Coirazza. “My cousins think our voices are similar. My dream is to be on the air one day; that would just be amazing.”
Although the jury is still out on who’s voice is better, for Goulet, a musician and music teacher, he thinks that Ferla-Coirazza does have the ideal voice for television or radio, but needs to just hone his technique.
“There is a lot of base in his voice and it’s perfect for a commentator,” Goulet says. “I still take music lessons myself and I used that to illustrate points to Alex about playing an instrument is much the same as what he was doing. When something is just not working, if it’s not spontaneous or relaxed, you have to slow things down and think about it, and then it naturally falls into place. We used an unorthodox approach, like you would have seen in the King’s Speech. He tried anything I asked, while we did not have him roll around on the floor or scream out the alphabet, we did things to emphasise the differences in dynamics such as whispering a few lines than say something very loud. When you know you have those tools, and when you know that you can really change your voice that much, you can play with it and then it sort of sounds natural after it.”
With enough practice, Ferla-Coirazza is confident that one day he will find himself offering up his play-by-play and analysis from the press box at the Bell Centre. Yet, much to the chagrin of his inner fan, he’s not too sure that it will happen this season. While his voice might be ready, according to his analysis, if the Canadiens do not make a roster move soon, they might not have too many games left.
“I think they’ll smarten off and have a chance to go as far as last year because Carey Price can bring us to a Stanley Cup,” Ferla-Coirazza says. “The season he’s had so far has been amazing; however, we need an enforcer to push us over the top, a good fighter to step up on the ice. Without that, I don’t know.”