Northumberland grad in second year with SMU football squad
Football hasn’t existed in Pictou County for years, but this weekend Justin Vanderlaan, a second-year right tackle for the SMU Huskies, is representing the county proudly in the AUS’ Loney Bowl on Saturday.
Originally from Kingston, Ont., Vanderlaan and his family have called New Glasgow home for the past four years. He began playing football when he was 10 years old in Ontario, but after moving to New Glasgow they realized they had to look outside the county for that opportunity.
“I played Football Nova Scotia out of Halifax,” he said. “In Grade 12 I did return to Kingston to play my final year of high school football. It was a difficult situation as Pictou County has no football organization.”
Vanderlaan did graduate from Northumberland Regional High School, attending for the second semester after attending Holy Cross Secondary School to begin the year.
His goal was always to play at the university level. The six-foot-nine right tackle said he wanted to advance his skill level and have the opportunity to continue his playing career after enjoying success during his high school years.
“It (opportunity to play at SMU) arose from my successful high school career at Holy Cross Secondary School,” he said. “This year has helped me gain experience with adapting to the CIS level of football and I am looking forward to more playing time as I gain more experience at the CIS level.”
The Loney Bowl is 2 p.m. at Saint Mary’s. That has the potential to be the most exciting part of Vanderlaan’s season, but going into the game it’s been seeing their steady improvement.
“The most exciting part of being a football player at SMU would be that I see my team's amount of improvement over the course of the season, and every day,” he said. “There is a lot of dedication by all the players of SMU, both on and off the field.
“This season has brought lots of challenges for our team because we have had to overcome losing a few players, but I know as a team we were able to come together and still push for the first place finish in the regular season.”
This week the team has been doing lots of practising as well as film according to Vanderlaan.
“We are preparing ourselves in the best way to be ready for the game on Saturday.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris