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CFL, Als mourn the passing of Michael Soles

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes are deeply saddened by the passing of former fullback Michael Soles, who passed away on Wednesday, following a sixteen-year struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative condition more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 54.

Soles, who joined the Alouettes as a free agent in 1996 when the team rejoined the CFL, was a big part of its rebirth playing four seasons, opening gaps for running back Mike Pringle, all while protecting quarterback Tracy Ham, both elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

“Our thoughts go to his family and friends” said Alouettes General Manager Danny Maciocia, who coached him in Montreal. “He was a great football player and always saw the Alouettes like his second family. He fought until the end and despite being sick, he never gave up and was always smiling. He had a great influence on my career and was more than a friend for me.”

In his first season in Montreal, Soles was elected a CFL all-star, all while winning the Lew Hayman Trophy as the Most Outstanding Canadian Player in the East Division. In the Alouettes first game in their return to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on November 2, 1997, Soles scored the Alouettes first touchdown en route to a 45-35 win over the BC Lions in the Eastern Semi-Final.

Soles was the first Canadian university player selected in the 1989 CFL draft, going fifth overall to Edmonton, where he played seven seasons and was a Northern Division All-Star in 1995. He had a productive 11-year CFL career, including four seasons with the Alouettes. He retired from the CFL in April, 2000 with 3,007 rushing yards on 579 carries, 3,501 receiving yards on 325 receptions and 70 career touchdowns (45 rushing), including a major in his final home game with the Alouettes.

“Soles was the face of the Alouettes when the team made a return in the league. He was a true leader on the team and in the community,” declared Alouettes President Mario Cecchini. “We will all remember a fighter, a true soldier and he will be missed”.

Prior to his CFL career, Soles led McGill University to a Vanier Cup national championship in 1987. He then helped Edmonton win a Grey Cup title in 1993.

Soles publicly announced his disease in February of 2013.

Born in Pointe Claire on November 8, 1966, he starred on the gridiron at St. Thomas High School and went on to graduate from McGill in only three years, earning a bachelor’s of arts degree in 1989, majoring in history and economics, all while being named a three-time conference all-star and two-time All-Canadian.

He is survived by his wife Catherine, sons Anthony and Matthew, and daughter Justine.

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