Gage B. Foster remembered

Football player "infectiously positive" on and off the field

Foster was 19 years old.
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On June 8, family, friends and teammates were delivered the tragic news of the passing of first year Queen’s student, Gage B. Foster.

Foster passed away in his hometown, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, in a fatal car crash at age 19. He’d recently completed his first year at Queen’s and was a member of the football team as a red-shirt wide receiver.

Foster celebrated his birthday a week and a half before the accident.

Born and raised in Portage la Prairie, a town of 13,000 just over an hour west of Winnipeg, Foster’s athletic prowess made him a big name in a small town. A multi-sport athlete, Foster played football, basketball, badminton, lacrosse and track through his youth.

In the wake of his death, Foster’s family has set up an athletic scholarship in Portage la Prairie under his name called the Gage Foster Athletic Scholarship Fund.

Pat Sheahan, head coach of the Queen’s football team, attended Foster’s funeral in Portage la Prairie on June 14. The service saw over 500 people come to remember the life of a young man who Sheahan described as one of the town’s "golden boys."

"There were a lot of people pulling for him," Sheahan said. "He was the only one in his town to go to Queen’s that year."

The beginning of Foster’s football career at Queen’s was an unusual one after tearing his ACL playing lacrosse in the weeks prior to training camp forced him to arrive two weeks late. Sheahan said Foster’s perseverance to get back to full health was on full display throughout the year.

"He won the respect of his teammates by the intensity of rehab and recovery," Sheahan said, adding that Foster was beginning to show signs of his former self during the offseason. "We started to see some of his explosiveness and speed come back, and that had us excited."

While he left a clear impression with his abilities, Sheahan saw a tenacity in Foster that he felt would give him the chance to be a marquee wide receiver in the coming years.

"He had all the prerequisites to be a star," Sheahan said. "When unfortunate events like this transpire, you’re just left wondering what could’ve been."

Alongside his unwavering determination and intensity on the football field, Foster was widely known for having a kind and genuine resolve. His love for life flooded into countless people’s lives, and his stabilizing positivity made people instantly gravitate towards him.

Fellow teammate and close friend, Kieran Flannery-Fleck, remembered Foster to be a big proponent in helping him get through the stressors of first year university.

"He was just really infectious," Flannery-Fleck said in an interview with The Journal.

Both in first year, Foster and Flannery-Fleck formed a quick bond with each other in the late stages of training camp. Alongside fellow first-year offensive lineman Jeff Boch, the three became quick friends.

"We basically formed a triangle. We were pretty inseparable for the whole year," Flannery-Fleck said, adding that Foster’s easy nature and positivity made the adjustment period of first year far more enjoyable. "You know, it’s hard for first year students to adapt … He really put an impact on myself and I think my whole floor."

One of Flannery-Fleck’s fondest memories of Foster was his affinity for old-time rock music, which he said would serve as background music to their Friday and Saturday night hangouts with his other floormates.

"It was cool because he just brought old-school music and so much positivity to our group while it was stressful in first year," Flannery-Fleck said.

But above the athletic accolades and music, Foster exuded a presence that was hardly forgettable.

"‘How could you not like Gage?’" Flannery-Fleck said. "That’s what [we’d] say when we would introduce him to new people, ‘How could you not?’"

"He’ll be missed, that’s for damn sure."

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