Since graduating from Dalhousie University nearly two decades ago, Constable Marc Rainford has made a few visits to Halifax to visit friends and watch the university soccer team’s home games.
His trip last weekend was, however, different.
Rainford was a member of the Dalhousie Tigers that created history in 1995 by becoming the first and only Nova Scotia university soccer team to capture a Canadian Interuniversity Sport title.
On November 14, the team was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
“It was an amazing weekend and event,” said Rainford, who joined the Service in 2001. “It was a great opportunity to reunite with teammates and our coach (Ian Kent lives in Manitoba) who I have not seen since I left the university. Some of the guys went back to England, a few remained in Halifax and others are in places like British Columbia, Ohio and Vietnam. Everybody came together for a few days and that was really powerful.”
The team went undefeated in the championship season and produced five Atlantic University Sport all-stars, including Rainford.
“We were pretty strong the year before, so a culture of winning was already established by the time the 1995 season rolled around,” he pointed out. “Everybody on the team got along and we competed hard. Those elements contributed to the magical season.”
Rainford was turned on to the sport shortly after migrating from Jamaica, at age seven, in 1979.
Graduating from Pickering’s Dunbarton High School, where he was the captain for three years, the defender accepted a scholarship to attend Saint Peter’s University in New Jersey, where he spent a year.
“I suffered a third-degree sprained ankle in the first game and was forced to play through the injury for the entire season,” Rainford, who also played for Wexford Soccer Club, recalled. “Because we didn’t have a deep roster, the starters were called upon to play heavy minutes and that didn’t allow me to heal properly. In addition, I found the culture in the United States polarizing and I just didn’t feel comfortable.”
After returning to Toronto and working for a year, Rainford was on the verge of enrolling at the University of Waterloo, whose head coach at the time was David Benning.
“He decided he was going to Dalhousie and I said I would follow him there,” recounted Rainford. “At the last moment, the coach changed his mind after he got a good offer to stay at Waterloo. I didn’t reverse my decision and that’s how I ended up in Halifax.”
Rainford relished playing in the Maritime province.
“There are no major league sports franchises there, so the university sports teams get all the attention,” he said. “We were treated like star athletes and it was just cool to be there.”
When Rainford finished school, he worked for five years as a sales representative with Adventure Clothing and for an internet company before becoming a police officer.
He has been assigned to the Divisional Policing Support Unit for the last four years.