A high-school student-athlete from Airdrie has charted the next steps forward in his burgeoning football career.
Earlier this month, senior W.H. Croxford Cavaliers lineman Khaleel Rahim signed his letter of intent to play for the St. Mary's University (SMU) Huskies next fall. The Halifax-based university team plays in the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) conference – one of four conferences that fall under the national USports banner.
“I’m very excited,” said Rahim, who plays on both the o-line and d-line for the Cavaliers. “I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to continue when I first started playing, but I’ve worked my way up. It’s kind of a surreal experience and I’m really proud of myself. It’s going to be fun.”
The 16-year-old has been playing football for four years, saying he enjoys both the physicality of the sport as well as the sense of family and fraternity that comes with it. In addition to playing for Croxford's football team, he's also played community ball at the peewee, bantam, and midget age groups for the Airdrie Storm and Raiders.
Rahim said the opportunity to play for SMU arose last year, when he first reached out to the program's recruitment coordinator. After initial conversations over the phone and Zoom, he started sending his game footage over.
Eventually, he said the Huskies offered him a letter of intent – a document that is akin to a contract.
The Grade 12 lineman said he's happy with the decision to commit his future to the Huskies. The team went winless in the AUS last year, but Rahim said other factors are what attracted him to the program.
“The St. Mary’s program, I’m happy with the environment,” he said. “It’s a home-y community and it feels like Airdrie. It feels nice, everyone knows each other. It’s a community, family-friendly environment, and I feel that’s a good place for me to go. It would be like I’m just back at home.”
In terms of what his strongest attributes are as a football player and what he can bring to the SMU team in the future, Rahim responded his intensity and sense of leadership.
“I just want to thank my parents and everyone who helped me through everything – my coaches and teammates who helped push me to be better,” he said.
Croxford in first
The Cavaliers have enjoyed their best-ever start to a Rocky View Sports Association season this year. With a 4-0 record, the west Airdrie team is currently in first place in the division, and ranked second in the province among Tier II teams by Football Alberta.
Rahim said the strong start to the 2022 campaign has led to a positive atmosphere in the Croxford dressing room.
“It’s great. We’re working as a cohesive unit, we’re buying in the system, he said.
The team's head coach, Josiah Donahue, said Rahim has played a key role in the Cavaliers' recent success. He added he expects the 16-year-old to have a successful career with the Huskies.
“For us, he’s been a player that has showcased his work ethic and growth as a player,” he said. “He’s always going to bring grit. He’s a guy you can rely on and when he plays on the line, we can trust him to make that block or tackle.
“Going to St. Mary’s, he’s going to be one of those players who can be a five-year player and grow to see how far he goes. He can be a centre piece for them.”