August 6-21, 2022
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Rory Fraser

7/8/21

by: Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

A Bluenoser’s Winding Journey To The Canada Games

It would be safe to say no one is looking forward to the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games more than Rory Fraser.

The 43-year-old Nova Scotia native will be attending his first Games as Team Nova Scotia’s Head Coach for Wrestling after several close misses earlier in his coaching and competing career.

“Words can’t describe how excited I am to be part of it,” Fraser said. “It’s 30 years in the making since I was introduced to the Canada Games ideology.

“This is my Olympics.”

Fraser was introduced to the sport by his high school coach and his late brother, Garrett Fraser, who died in June 2020 from ALS. Fraser started training with the 1993 Canada Games Wrestling team where his brother was a member, but he did not attend those Games in Kamloops.

He was then set to go for the next Canada Summer Games in 1997 but the age group for wrestling was changed so he was unable to attend.

At that point, Fraser moved to Niagara Falls to wrestle for the Brock Wrestling Club for two years under coaches Richard DesChatelets and Marty Calder.

Eventually, Fraser went back to Nova Scotia and took a break from the sport. 

“Mike Lidstone was the coach of the female Canada Games team last cycle and he got me back into it,” Fraser said. “He found out I was living in Cole Harbour and there was wrestling going on and he wanted to try and get me back out because he knew my connections with the Brock club and Marty and Richard. He wanted me to come out and prepare some of the local kids in Metro Halifax and I did.”

Fraser said it didn’t take long to realize the fire still burned inside him for the sport.

“I got back into the wrestling room and being around the sounds of the room and the drive of the competition, the hairs on my arms were standing up and that old feeling came back,” he said. “It got to the point where it was something I could do. I never thought I would be head coach going into this Games’ cycle but it all kind of fit with my past being a member of the Brock Wrestling Club and always wanting to go to the Canada Summer Games as a participant.”

Fraser said he can’t wait to see the progress at Canada Games Park, located near Brock University.

“The last time I was there was just before the pandemic hit and they were just starting to break ground,” he said. “Marty was showing me around. I’m very proud of what Brock is doing and the Niagara Region. I’m just as excited to take my team of athletes, along with all of the Nova Scotia athletes, to my former hometown and show it off with a lot of pride.”

Fraser was set to attend the Games last year when the COVID pandemic forced them to be postponed for a year.

“I was worried that my dream was crushed again,” he admitted.  

He was also dealing with his brother who was in the final stages of battling ALS at the time.

“He said to me how proud he was of me becoming the head coach and he would be watching over me at the Games,” Fraser said. “As I am sure you are aware how much this would just rip me apart and the Games being postponed, I was thinking maybe I am just never supposed to go.”

Fraser admits losing his brother was a defining moment in his life.

“The ALS process was a real hard one to deal with,” he said. “It was tricky. He was my big brother and big brothers always try to protect their little brothers. The dignity he had going through this was so inspiring and it pushes me a little bit more.

“I’ve learned a lot about life after watching what my brother has gone through. It’s really given me a different set of blinders to put on. We just need to work together and it’s the whole thing about being kind and compassionate and caring for your neighbour.”

Fraser plans to honour his brother at the Games.

“His t-shirt he wore in 1993 will be in my backpack and I’m taking his wrestling boots with me as well. The logo chosen for our own kids is the same logo he wore in 1993. There will be a lot of homage (paid) to him.”

Fraser, who has worked in law enforcement for the past 17 years, has high hopes for his teams.

“I know our population. We are hindered because we don’t get the bigger competitions like Ontario. We just don’t have that placement here,” he said. “I do believe Nova Scotia does have some wrestlers that are really going to shock the Canada Games and the actual country itself. They have been putting in the hard work — I’m not saying the rest of the country hasn’t — but a lot of time these kids have been putting in the hard work while no one else is watching. That’s what I’m excited for.”

This report was filed by BP Sports Niagara, which is owned and operated by Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz.

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