MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact are mourning the loss of the sister of defender Karl W. Ouimette this week after she died on Sept. 1 following a 12-year battle with cancer.
The Impact will play host to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN in Canada).
“I’ve known Karl for a number of years,” defender and fellow Impact Homegrown player Wandrille Lefèvre told reporters on Monday. “We knew about his sister’s situation. We were shocked as we learned the news when we got to training last week. It was even more of a shock given that Karl wasn’t with us.”
Julie had been battling Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare type of cancer that required her to undergo multiple bone marrow transplants and hundreds of blood transfusions.
Yet Julie’s will to live never dwindled. She was a champion for several causes linked to her condition, including blood donation awareness and support for young adults dealing with cancer.
And that commitment is living on with her family. Her mother, Nathalie, has vowed to carry on Julie’s mission, while Ouimette has been a spokesperson for the Shaved Head Challenge that raises funds for young cancer patients and clinical research.
Ouimette is currently in Toronto with the Canadian national team for an international friendly match against Jamaica on Tuesday night.
Though he did come back to Montreal for Julie’s funeral on Friday, there were no plans for Ouimette to re-join his club Impact teammates. The international game, head coach Frank Klopas said, is “something positive that he was looking forward to.”
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“When he comes back, being here with us, I think it’s going to be the same way; we’re his second family, and I think that we’re all hurt by the circumstances,” Klopas said. “It’s a very difficult one, and we just have to be there to support him. But I know that being out on the field is probably something that he wanted to do right away.”
Ouimette is expected back in Montreal for the Wednesday for the game against LA. The short turnaround means Klopas is likely to rest him, but there’ll be support for Ouimette whether he plays or not.
“It’s important to know that Karl’s sister came to every game,” Lefèvre said. “She followed the Impact closely. She was very involved with what happened with the team. Obviously, it would have done us good [if last weekend’s game had been in Montreal]. But we’re back home this Wednesday, and we could do something nice.”