British Columbia

B.C. Lions mourn loss of longtime equipment manager 'Kato' Ken Kasuya

The man known only as 'Kato' began his long career with the Lions at Empire Stadium at age 13, as a volunteer water and ball boy.

The man known only as 'Kato' began his long career with the CFL team as a 13-year-old volunteer

The B.C. Lions' long-time equipment manager 'Kato' Ken Kasuya has died. (B.C. Lions)

Tributes are pouring in for beloved B.C. Lions institution and equipment manager "Kato" Ken Kasuya, who has passed away, the club announced.

"We are devastated as an organization today," wrote Lions president Rick LeLacheur in a statement. 

"From the day he rode his bike to Empire Stadium as a teenager more than 40 years ago to volunteer as a water boy, Kato endeared himself to generations of Lions players and staff members."

Known for his gentle demeanour and quietly wicked sense of humour, Kato first started with the Lions as a 13-year-old volunteer. His first paid position was as assistant equipment manager in 1984 after he graduated from Templeton High School in East Vancouver.

In 1994 he was promoted to equipment manager, a position he held ever since. 

Known throughout the CFL by his nickname only, people were often surprised to learn Kato's real name was Ken.

His dedication to football transcended the Lions and in the off-season he could often be found assisting at amateur football camps and functions around the province.

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Kato was as synonymous with the Lions as any star player or legendary coach.

"Over the years, his personality and presence became just as important to his team and our league as the crucial role he played. He is one of those rare individuals who came to the CFL as a boy and dedicated his entire working life to our athletes and our game," Ambrosie said.

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