Celebrating Stingers service 

By Daniel Rodrigues

If you ask most football players, ‘when do you start preparing for next season?’ you might get the simple response, ‘the day this season is over.’ However, for seven revered members of this year’s Concordia Stingers football team, the question did not carry a simple answer. For those seven players, their days as Stingers are over.

“In all my years coaching I have not seen a better group of graduating players,” said Stingers head coach, and master of ceremonies Gerry McGrath on Sat., Jan 31. “The leadership that these players provided was tremendous, the legacy they will leave on this franchise extraordinary.”

He stood at the front of the Molson Brewery’s banquet hall overlooking the crowd of players, coaches and esteemed guests. But without a doubt the focus of many was fixed on the seven jerseys displayed to his left. 50, 58, 56, 7, 29, 55, 91… these were the numbers of the men who had completed their five years of eligibility.

As is tradition at the football team’s annual end-of-year banquet, each graduating player was given the opportunity to address the audience and reflect on their time in the maroon and gold.

Stingers coach Gerry McGrath (left) and Nathan Agadzi. For more Magnifying glass

Stingers coach Gerry McGrath (left) and Nathan Agadzi. For more

The first to the podium was number 50, Nathan Agadzi. True to his integral sense of leadership, Agadzi asked to speak first so he could lead his fellow Stingers one last time.

“I didn’t write anything. I’m just going to speak from my heart,” started Agadzi, speaking from the same heart that carried him and his teammates throughout his five years. Like the six others that would follow, Agadzi spoke about what it meant to be a Stinger, and thanked coaches, friends and family.

Then were numbers 58, Connor Smith, and 56, Mike Comeau. Both fixtures on Concordia’s offensive line, the two complemented each other in every way. Smith, the soft- spoken one of the two, allowed his words to speak louder than his actions, a contrast to his playing style – both men a testament to the sheer blue-collar work ethic they brought to the team each day.

Comeau, the more vocal leader, was humbled by his experiences, “Enjoy your time here because it goes by faster than you think,” he said.

After dinner, number 7, Blake Butler spoke and was followed by 29 Darnell Danglade. Both men expressed the sacrifice and perseverance it takes to be a university athlete. Butler displayed his passion for the game, sacrificing his personal accomplishments for the good of the team on many occasions, while Danglade willingly switched positions mid-season to help the team – a selfless act for any player, let alone one in his final year.

Next was number 55, Thomas Kuchiran. His words were well-prepared and well-spoken, his preparation for and knowledge of the game exceptional.

“Being able to play football and study here at Concordia was a privilege,” said Kuchiran, who exemplified what it meant to be a student-athlete.

Last but not least was number 91, William Miller. Always the last voice heard before kickoff, the banquet would be no different.

“I have so many memories from my time here,” he said, “and I will always keep those with me.”

If Agadzi was the heart of this year's team, Miller was the soul. Returning from multiple fractures to his collarbone, suffered a year previous, Miller showed the dedication, determination and love he had for not only the game, but for his team.

With all seven jerseys now gone from sight, the book was officially closed on the 2008 football season.

The preparation for the 2009 season is well underway, and, although the seven won’t physically be a part of this year's team, their words and actions will live on through their teammates who look to carry on the tradition and the legacy the seven have left in their place.


Concordia University