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October 17, 2013, Kamloops, BC (ISN) —When the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack hit the field at Hillside Stadium for their PACWEST men’s soccer match on Sunday (Oct 20). Not only will it be important since it’s a battle for first place against Langara College, but it is also going to be the final home match for a player who has made a big impact on the program.

Sebastian Gardner (midfield, Vernon, BC) has played five seasons with the WolfPack. Gardner first came to Thompson Rivers University in 2007 and helped the WolfPack win the-then BC College Athletic Association championship.

“He was a feisty kid from Vernon that supported Portsmouth (UK) through and through,” recalled WolfPack co head coach Sean Wallace. ” He wears his heart on his sleeve each and every time he steps onto the field and that is what I love about this guy.” Since that first match, Gardner, like the program has enjoyed some ups and downs. For the 5’10” inch midfielder, the highs have included two trips to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships (2007 and 2008), being named a PACWEST all-star in 2012 and meeting fellow soccer player Cassie Drummond—who married him in late September.

The lows have had to be two bouts of cancer. His latest chemotherapy came just before the start of this season.

“Seb has matured as a player and an individual more than any 25 year old should,” Wallace states. ” As a player he has grown to where any team would be glad to have him on their team and we appreciate his leadership qualities that he shares with the team. He brings a passion for the game that is contagious and makes guys around him want to play that way. As an individual he has had to overcome a lot with injuries and medical problems but I think it has made him stronger person and better for it. “

“He is probably one of the most selfless players I have ever coached,” explains co head coach John Antulov.” I have never seen a player that gets to know everyone personally on the team, but also make them feel a part of the program by engaging them in conversation and bringing htem into the fold.”

Both coaches feel Gardner will leave as his legacy how he conducted himself on and off the field and the passion he brought to the pitch. ” He is always a leader that we are proud to have on the team,” Wallace said.

Wallace has two fond stories about his soon to be graduating player. ” One was in 2007 during the provincial final. Seb had played a hard first half but with his team down 2-0 he was subbed out to watch the second half unfold. He did not get down he cheered on his teammates from the side and helped them come back and win in pk’s. I still have a photo of him with his arm around our youngest son Keenan and the rest of his teammates on the sidelines during the penalty kicks taking place on the field waiting for the final shot and the celebration to begin. The second one was last year during fitness testing doing the cooper run. He had just finished his run under 12 minutes and was waiting for the next group to finish and one of the rookies, Nolan Wallace, was struggling coming up to his final lap and Seb offered to run with him to encourage him to get around the track in the time needed. It was a very selfless act and showed his true qualities as a leader and teammate.”

Wallace adds “We are definitely going to miss him being in our program but wish him all the best in his future life with Cassie. He will always be welcome around any team that John and I coach.”

Gardner will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Social Work. The WolfPack will host the Quest Kermodes on Saturday (Oct 19) and the Langara College Falcons on Sunday (Oct 20). Kick off is 2 pm.

The good thing for Gardner is that Sunday’s game wont be his last with TRU. The WolfPack have qualified for the PACWEST playoffs.