Volume 92, Issue 20

Wednesday, October 7, 1998



Sussex is Mustangs' centre of attention

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette

IF HE DOESN'T STOP, I'M GOING TO TURN AROUND. Aaron Sussex, the anchor of the Mustang offensive line, has worked for years to get himself into this position.

By Alan Russette
Gazette Staff

The Mustang football tradition is built on hard work, blood, sweat and tears. A tradition that starting centre Aaron Sussex knows better than most.

In his fifth and final year of eligibility, Sussex has taken a considerably different road to the gridiron than most of his fellow players.

Unlike many players on the roster, Sussex never received calls from head coach Larry Haylor inviting him to training camp. In fact, the graduate of London's Oakridge Secondary School never really played much football in high school, only suiting up in his OAC year.

After watching the Mustangs from the bleachers in his first year, Sussex got the itch to play again.

"Something inside me told me I wanted to try it. Nobody knew who I was or anything like that. I just walked on," said Sussex, who originally went through training camp as a defensive end.

But after final cuts were made, the tremendous depth of the defensive line prompted the coaching staff to shift him over to the offensive-line. Catching a break with the graduation of many of the veteran offensive linemen, Sussex was given the opportunity to prove himself.

"If you show you've got the work ethic and the commitment, then [the coaches] will take a look at you," he said. "They gave me an equal opportunity to show I could play and I did, so it worked out well."

A strong work ethic and high intensity are traits noticed by both coaches and teammates. Running back Fabian Rayne believes the centre's will to win will be a great asset through the season.

"He's definitely a leader. People look up to him," Rayne said. "The standards he sets are high and I think that's what we need. We need someone who's willing to go out and achieve these goals."

Head coach Larry Haylor is pleased with the development of Sussex over the years.

"For his coaches, it's always rewarding because they've seen the enormous progress he's made. He's a very different kind of player now than he was when he came," Haylor said. "I think people look at Aaron as a symbol of how one can succeed and play tremendously well with great character."

For Sussex the last five years have been among the best of his life, saying that playing in the major bowl games had to be counted as highlights of his football career.

As for predictions on this season, the veteran centre is cautious but optimistic. He believed this past weekend's Homecoming victory against the Waterloo Warriors to have been a great test for the team.

"We have the potential to be a top team, it's just whether we gel or not," Sussex said. "And that's something you can't predict."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998