It was a battle that raised thousands for brain cancer research but one that ultimately claimed the life of a popular University of Victoria alumnus.
Former UVic Vikes soccer captain Mackenzie Rigg died March 11 at the age of 26 from a brain tumour, at home surrounded by his mom Barbara, dad Chris and sister Madeline.
Rigg was captain of UVic’s soccer team and two-time all-Canadian and news of his death came as a devastating blow to the Vikes community, which raised more than $120,000 during a pair of Vikes Kick Cancer relays organized on Rigg’s behalf.
“Mackenzie personified everything it means to be a Vike. He had a wonderfully contagious positive spirit, from his talent as an athlete to his leadership and genuine desire to help. I want to express our deepest condolences to his family and friends, who, like all of us, are mourning this loss,” said UVic senior director of athletics and recreation Clint Hamilton.
Rigg was much more than a soccer player, however: a terrific student, an academic all-Canadian, a member of the Vikes varsity council, an emcee of the Vikes’ largest fundraising event, a volunteer, and an outstanding person.
A high school standout, the Okanagan-Mission Secondary School product was named tournament MVP of the B.C. Double-A Provincial Soccer Championships. Presenting Rigg the MVP award that day was UVic head coach Bruce Wilson, who promptly recruited the promising defender.
Wilson credits Rigg for not only his versatility on the pitch, but for being a reliable and intelligent leader who players looked up to.
“It’s tragic news. Mackenzie was extremely intelligent and a great student. He was the type of player you could always count on, who never missed a practice and would do anything asked of him. I’ve been lucky to stay in touch with him over the last couple of years, and this is a big loss,” Wilson said.
Rigg was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2020 following a series of intense headaches.
Rigg played 59 games in his UVic career, 49 as a starter, and logged 4,444 minutes. He was an academic all-Canadian in the 2016-17 season. The high point was the Canada West silver medal the Vikes won in 2015-16. He was signed by the Victoria Highlanders after graduating.
He will be remembered by those who knew him best for his dedication to his pursuits in both athletics and academics, his sense of adventure and his big heart that never gave up.
The Vikes Kick Cancer initiative was created in his honour, raising money for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
In lieu of flowers, the Rigg family would encourage donations to The Brain Tumour Foundation, braintumour.ca/mackenzie-rigg.
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