Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Life of promising young athlete snuffed in car crash

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MINUTES away from starting his long-awaited spring training camp with the University of Manitoba Bisons football club, the tall, blue-eyed athlete had his dreams snuffed out when the car he was travelling in crashed outside Portage la Prairie.

Last Friday, 18-year-old Alex Rodier was on his way home from Saskatchewan to head straight to a three-day training session for his hometown team.

The single-vehicle crash made headlines last week because provincial Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, a former pediatrician, came upon the unconscious young man on his way to a campaign event in Brandon. Gerrard was the first on the scene of the accident about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Rodier was a passenger in the red Pontiac Sunfire being driven by his girlfriend when it rolled on the Trans-Canada Highway, said an RCMP spokesman, and Rodier was thrown about 15 metres from the vehicle. He died en route to hospital.

A slotback this past season for the University of Regina Rams Football Club, Rodier was due to return to Winnipeg this fall to be a receiver for the Bisons and continue his second year of university studies in science.

A reddish-haired kid who grew up to stand 6-6 tall, his father said the still-growing youth added an extra inch last year.

"He had no limits. He could do anything he set his mind to," said Chuck Rodier, who said his son was notorious for his love of sports, including years playing hockey and lacrosse.

"He was an exuberant, confident, caring, loving man... I know I had a great son. I can't think of a better gift God could have gave me."

Of course, said Rodier, there was also a tender side to the member of the 2005 national gold-medal winning Under-17 Provincial Football Team -- like a love for dressing up in goofy costumes and an enduring affection for his childhood teddy bear.

The loss of Alex Rodier, said Bison football head coach Brian Dobie, is a profound one. Dobie said Rodier had incredibly promise both on the football field and in the classroom.

Rodier was offered a scholarship to attend the University of Regina and play football, an offer that family members said he gratefully accepted.

"He was smart. He was very, very coachable. He wanted to learn," said Dobie. "He was one of those young kids that kept progressing... there was no question there was a place for him here, and we were happy to have him."

Dobie said he would like players to wear a symbol honouring Rodier on their jerseys next year, like the number Rodier wore when he played for the University of Regina.

Rodier's funeral is Friday at 1 p.m. at St. Boniface Cathedral.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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