Months after Alexander Jessup’s passing, his coaches and fellow players with the Dalhousie University Tigers Football Club continue to reflect on the life of their teammate and friend. Jessup passed away in his Dalhousie residence on Nov. 27, 2022, following complications with his diabetes.
Throughout the 2022 season, Jessup dealt with a torn ACL and was in the hospital with a pair of burnt hands. But Freddy Diab, Dal’s defensive line coach, said that wouldn’t stop him from being with his team.
“Even through all that, he’s out of the hospital and he’s back at practice. He was a tough kid,” he said.
With a torn ACL, Jessup still participated in practice. Offensive lineman Lucas Ferracuti said even though Jessup could not hit as hard as he wanted, he still ran in practice as hard as he could and pushed himself. Every Wednesday, the player who has the best practice in the eyes of the team receives a WWE belt, which the team labels the “hype night belt.”
Ferracuti recalled when Jessup won the belt — while injured.
“He worked his ass off and even though he was injured out there, he was still running at us and trying to hit us,” said Ferracuti. “Tough as nails describes him perfectly. Worked his ass off all the time, never gave an inch and was in the gym constantly, even when he shouldn’t have been, he was working out constantly. [The] kid was tough.”
When people spoke of the young footballer as a person, the phrase Diab used — “tough as nails” — is one which resonated with teammates and coaches.
“He dealt with a lot of shit,” said Diab. “His diabetes, his knees. His body just didn’t want to cooperate with him. He burned his hands in his first three or four months here. He’s just happy to be there, he’s just a happy guy.”
Supporting one another
Receiver Nicholas Mondor knew Jessup from their hometown in North Bay, Ont., before going to Dal and lived next to him in Studley Hall. On Nov. 27, Mondor and some other friends found Jessup in his dorm. They were the first to see him after his passing.
Jessup, Mondor said, was the fifth in the group of five friends that hung out “every night” after long days of school, work or football. That didn’t change the day Jessup died — navigating the shock and grief of what they were just beginning to experience, Jessup’s friends wouldn’t leave his side.
“When he passed away, we all stayed with each other the whole time and were comforting each other. I think that really helped,” said Mondor.
For Ferracuti, Jessup was his best friend at Dal. After Ferracuti shared his commitment to Dal football on social media, he said Jessup was the first one to contact him.
“He was always outgoing, super kind, always willing to help out, always wanted to get you something if you needed it,” said Ferracuti. “If I wasn’t feeling well, he’d walk upstairs and check on me and see how I was doing, and he’d invite me to anything.”
Ferracuti said he immediately cried once he heard the news about his friend. He knew there was only one place where he could go — one place where he had made so many memories with Jessup — to find peace: Wickwire Field.
“The second after [hearing the news], all I thought was, ‘I can’t be in this building.’ Then I went and I sat at the field for a good hour and didn’t really have any thoughts. I just kind of sat there,” said Ferracuti. “I kind of felt lost for a good little while.”
Mondor, while still reflecting on Jessup’s life and his time with the Tigers cut too short, knows one thing for sure about him: he was the most encouraging person he had ever met. That’s exactly what he did on the field, always pushing teammates to do their best.
“He lived life how we wanted to. He’s just such a good human. He always had so much energy,” said Mondor. “Everyone knew him. He made an impact on everyone on our team, everyone he met here first semester and immediately. He’s just got such a warm heart.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Jessup’s family and shared by the Tigers and his former teams, teammates and others online. As of Feb. 23, donations are still being accepted.