SFU mourns passing of student Bernd Dittrich
Don MacLachlan, director, PAMR
o: 778.782.3929; c: 604.763.3929
Updated November 11, 6:50PM
It is with great sadness that Simon Fraser University and SFU Athletics share the news of the passing today of football player Bernd Dittrich.
Dittrich, a quarterback for the SFU Clan football team, died in Royal Columbian hospital Wednesday morning. He was taken to hospital Tuesday evening after losing consciousness in a swimming pool on SFU’s Burnaby campus.
He was 21 years old. He is survived by his family in Austria.
While cause of death has yet to be officially determined, SFU’s head football coach, Dave Johnson, said he had learned at the hospital in New Westminster that Dittrich had a previously undetected heart condition.
Said Johnson: “He was a special young man. He is a kid who was a great example to our young guys, and a leader for our older guys. He was a great kid. We have 94 guys in the locker room and Bernie was one of the leaders of that group.”
Johnson added that Dittrich was using swimming as a means of rehabilitating an injured shoulder that had kept him out of the last two games.
Originally from Vienna, Austria, Dittrich moved to Heavener, Oklahoma, at the age of 17 for his senior year of high school, and played both quarterback and linebacker for the Heavener Wolves.
Growing up in Vienna, Dittrich fell in love with the sport of American Football, and played for the Vienna Vikings club team, where he was coached by current SFU offensive coordinator Shawn Olson for five years. Olson recruited Dittrich to play for Simon Fraser, and the mobile pivot joined the Clan football team in August of 2007 alongside his fellow Vienna Viking teammate Daniel Stanzel.
“Our hearts go out to Bernd’s family,” said SFU's Senior Director of Athletics, Dr. David Murphy. “The SFU athletics community has lost an exceptional young man. Bernd was not only a great athlete on the field, but also an inspiring individual in all aspects of life. We will miss him tremendously.
“He was an enthusiastic leader, someone who was always willing to help out; just a terrific kid. The whole (SFU Athletics) department, not just the football team, is grieving.”
While the third-year Bachelor of Science student played a minor role with the team during his first season, Dittrich was named starting quarterback of the Clan in 2008.
In his first career start, he led SFU to their first victory in over three years, a 24-10 win over UBC. Following the victory, an emotional Dittrich fought back tears while describing how much the win meant to his teammates and coaching staff.
In 2008, Dittrich led the Clan to their best record since 2003 (5-3), a fourth-quarter comeback win in the 2008 Shrum Bowl against UBC, and an appearance in the Canada West Hardy Cup final. A shoulder injury in 2009 limited Dittrich to six games this past season.
Playing in 24 total games for the Clan, Dittrich threw for 2684 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 763 yards and eight touchdowns.
Known affectionately as ‘Bernie,’ Dittrich was an inspiration to his teammates, and was known for his enthusiasm and tremendous work ethic. He will be greatly missed.
There is no word yet on funeral arrangements.
Editors/producers: Photos are available from SFU Athletics. Please contact Scott McLean, Media, Broadcast and Sports Information Director in Clan Athletics: Phone 778-782-4057, Cell 604-505-5519, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
My condolences to his family, friends and teammates. He sounds like an exceptional young man who led by example.
My heartfelt condolence to his family and teammates. Although I don't know him personally, I feel very much affected by his death. I am loss for words.
My heart and condolences goes out to the SFU football team and of course Bernd's family back home in Austria.
I met Bernd a few times while working out on the track and at the bus stop. He was a very passionate individual, and it was a pleasure watching him play football against the University of Manitoba.
Such an unfortunate loss for the SFU community, but his spirit will live on with the football team and the community for a long time to come.
Being part Austrian myself I followed Bernd's career when he joined SFU. A young and talented man gone way before his time. My condolences to all who knew him.
My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family,friends, and the SFU team.
NATIVE AMERICAN POEM:
I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still - I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the sweet uplifting rush,
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft starts that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone -
I am with you still in each new dawn.
Although I did not know him, I am sure we would have made a difference in my life.
This is so tragic. My condolences to his friends and family.
Rest In Peace
I had the pleasure & honor to train with Bernd for several years.
He was a great athlete and a rolemodel for everyone.
I'm glad I had the chance to know him.
Rest in peace "Flying Guy".
My condolences to his 2 brothers and the rest of his family.
Bernd is well remembered in the American Football community here in Vienna, Austria, my adopted home. I did not personally have a chance to know him, but I can tell you that news of his passing came as a real shock to the community here, that word has traveled very quickly, and that he is being mourned. He's also remembered as probably the best home-grown QB talent from here in Austria.
Though I didn't know him before he left to live in the States during high school, I am a big Vienna Vikings here, and I can see that their community is truly shocked and saddened.
I wish his family and friends much strength.
Du warst fr viele sterreichische Footballer ein grosses Vorbild! Danke!
My condolences to Bernies family, friends and team mates. Like him, Im from Vienna and my brother has known him quite well, training quarterback for the Vienna Vikings. Were all tremendously shocked and sad. Everyone who knew him felt that he was very special. Were gonna miss him- well never forget him and his great personality.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my condolences To Bernd's family and friends, and also to his girlfriend Jane. Here is a word of encouragement that I hope will lift their spirits.
"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands" 2 Corinthians 5:1...."Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's house If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going." John 14:1 - 4
There is joy ahead and I pray that God sees you all through his trying time because his grace is sufficient.
Grace, Love, and Peace be yours in abundance
Mica-el Mumba(Track and Field)
Mr. Bernie Dittrich was a person who was always positive about everything that happened in his life. He was a very hardworking individual who had very clear goals and dreams of where he wanted his life to go. I knew Bernie through the "Student Campus Safety Program" at SFU and everytime I worked with him he always had positive things to say with a smile on his face. Bernie the SFU community and the Student Campus Safety Program will miss you very much. Enjoy playing football in another life.
Bernie and I, both being Math majors, met often in class. He was always smiling, always warm and friendly. He took tremendous joy in learning, football, people, all the beauty in the world around him. He was always wonderful company, and I will very much miss seeing him in class (and running over to grab a bubble tea, with him, between lectures).
For Bernie, achievement was its own reward. He was humble, and never bragged about his accomplishments on the football field. It was his joy in learning and in athletics that motivated his hard work in both, and, as such, he was a wonderful role model for all those who seek to grow and learn in any endeavour.
I feel very fortunate to have known Bernie, and extend my most heartfelt condolences to his family.
You are a big Footballer for the little country of austria
ruhe in frieden
It's really sad that he passed away, even though we are very different here in SFU, in that we come from different places, we are unified in that we make up the student body. I feel like a part of us is missing and no one can take his place.
My sincerest condolences to his family and friends and ofcourse SFU for the great loss. May he Rest in Eternal Peace.
Rest in peace...
My great condolences to his family and friends.
May his soul rest in peace and sincerest condolence to his family and friends
May his soul rest in peace and sincerest condolence to his family and friends
Rest In Peace Bernd Dittrich...
Does anybody know when funeral ceremony will be?
As an SFU REC staff, my heart and condolence go out to his family, friends, and SFU Clan teammates.
I never had the chance to personally meet Bernd, but I shared the same math/ stats tutor with him during Spring 2009. He was a good student and an exceptional leader within the SFU community. He will be missed.
Rest In Peace
Ein unglaublicher Sportler und bewundernswerter Mensch.
Herzliches Beileid an Familie und Freunde.
More than 25 students and staff attended a Mass for the soul of Bernd at SFU's Interfaith Centre Chapel on Thursday, November 12, at 12:30 p.m. Perhaps more would have been there had they known about it, and others can unite themselves to our prayers. It will be of consolation to family and friends to know that we prayed and continue to do so, for him and for them. Fr. Fernando, SFU Catholic Chaplain
It was with shock and sadness to hear of the passing of Bernie. As a parent of a football grad from last year I had the privilege of watching Bernie lead in the turn around of the SFU football team. In chance conversations with Bernie, his leadership, enhusiasm for the game and personal commitment were evident. What a signifcant loss to the team, to the student population and to his family. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who grieve. The beautiful spirit of this fine young man will be with us always.
Sincerely and with a sad heart
So young, and so sad. It's ashame that the good die young. May his soul rest in peace. My condolences goes out to his family and friends. I can't imagine having to go through such a tragic time, but with help from God and people that loves you, you all with make it through. God Bless.
I never knew him, but I feel like I've lost somebody very close. We are all a family here at SFU and we've suffered a great loss.
I am sorry to hear that.Rest and peace.
God will bless you and your family.
R. I. P. Dittrich
Herzliches Beileid an die Familie in Oesterreich, er war viel zu jung. Ich kannte ihn nicht persoenlich, aber der Schock war trotzdem viel zu gross.
Rest in Peace.
I never met face to face with you neither i know you in anyway but i'm deeply sad about what happened to you.
God gives patience to anyone who loves you deeply and feeling the way how i feel...
Rest in peace. Our prayers are with you...
To Bernie's family, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. This is such a shock to all of the SFU community. I lost my 19 year old brother, also an SFU student, 3 years ago. It doesnt get easier, but what does help is to know that there will always be people who love you and your family, thinking and praying for you. Your son will never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace