Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CIS Corner: Former Queen's basketball player slain

No doubt you heard already that a Canadian teacher, Mark Alessio, was shot and killed in Madagascar on Monday in what's being called a bungled robbery attempt. Alessio played four seasons of then-CIAU basketball, at Queen's and McGill.

From the press release:
"Alessio attended Queen’s from 1984 to 1989 and graduated with an honours degree in Psychology in 1989. He was a part of the Queen’s Junior Varsity squad before joining the Queen’s varsity team for three seasons from 1986 to 1989. He was a teammate and personal friend of actor Tom Cavanagh.

"Alessio also played an additional season with McGill in 1990-91 while pursuing his post-graduate degree.

" 'Mark was a tremendous teammate and a truly incredible individual,' said Bruce Caughill, who played two season with Alessio at Queen’s. “He was a free spirit and more committed than anyone I have ever met to living life on his own terms. We will miss him and cherish the memories we have of him.'

" 'It's always disheartening to hear about the loss of life, especially when closely connected to our basketball community,' said Queen’s men's basketball coach Rob Smart. 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends in this trying period.' "
It is unspeakable. In a small country such as Canada (population-wise) and among the small fraternity of university sports devotees, chances are we're only a few degrees of separation from someone who knew Mark Alessio. Here's hoping they can get through the next few days and weeks as well as can be hoped.

(Small world: Alessio's last year at Queen's, 1988-89, was my first as a Golden Gaels fan. My 11, going on 12-year-old interest was piqued part by Jock Climie, who set a national receiving record that fall and partly by my mom going back that year to finish her history degree. Her first class, a Monday night history lecture, was taught by campus legend Geoffrey S. Smith, a long-time supporter of Queen's basketball. No word of a lie, I'm reading one of Dr. Smith's books currently.

Cross-posted to

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