Cancer has claimed highly popular Thompson Rivers University WolfPack assistant men’s soccer coach Sebastian Gardner.
The native of Vernon joined the WolfPack as a player in 2007 after graduating from Clarence Fulton Secondary. He was a former PACWEST all-star in 2012. He was part of the TRU squad which won the BC College Athletic Association title in both 2007 and placed fourth in two straight Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships: 2007 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and 2008 in Kamloops).
He was the co-winner of the 2012-13 Tyler Lowey Award, which goes to a TRU athlete who has come back from a serious injury or ailment.
That year, Gardner returned to the WolfPack lineup and helped lead them to a PACWEST title and a silver medal at the CCAA championships in St. John, New Brunswick.
Gardner contracted lymphoma after going into remission. He succumb to the disease Sunday in Kamloops. He was 28. He is the son of John and Penny Gardner of Vernon.
Said WolfPack head coach John Antulov, who had Gardner as an assistant coach the last three years: “Seb was a captain and a leader of our program during his playing career at TRU. Although a fierce competitor and winner on the field, he was a great person off the field who made all feel welcome especially the younger players who just joined our program. As an assistant coach he had the same mind set and attitude. He had a great heart and soul and really showed these traits as he transitioned into his job as a social worker and coach with TRU and the Vancouver Whitecaps Kamloops Academy. The players, kids, coaches he played and worked with loved and respected him. He will not only be remembered as a player and coach but a friend and the person he was. He was admired and respected for his courage and strength as he battled this disease and left a lasting impression on me and all of those he touched that will never be forgotten.”
Added Athletics and Recreation director Ken Olynyk: “”Seb epitomized all aspects of a true teammate in every sense of the word, a young man who faced every challenge head on. He will always be remembered not for the student-athlete but for the person he was and how he touched so many lives during his shortened time with us, we will miss him”
A celebration of life is planned for Saturday April 8 at the Alliance Church in Kamloop. He is survived by his wife Cassie (nee: Drummond), who played with the WolfPack women’s soccer team when the couple met.
Other early plans include a memorial scholarship in Gardner’s name.