A University of Prince Edward Island men's soccer player will be trading in his regular green-and-white jersey for another on Saturday when he represents the Canadian Premier League's York9 FC in The Island Games on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Evan Couturier has been called up to join the Ontario-based team as they take on the Halifax Wanderers FC in Charlottetown.
"He's kind of like the Zamboni driver at the NHL games," said Lewis Page, Couturier's coach with the Panthers.
Page, who coaches the school's men's and women's teams, said Couturier was kept on a reserve list in case one of the team's goalkeepers got injured.
His coach describes the second-year university student as a "very composed, very competitive" athlete.
"He's the type of player who's going to go in there and he's going to compete every minute of the game. That's his biggest strength," he said.
Getting in the mental game
Page is predicting Couturier will likely dress as the backup.
"I'm assuming their other goalie is ready to go and they've lost the second one and they just want to make sure they have a goalkeeper on the bench in case something happens during the game," he said.
But he could play. Even if he doesn't, there is the opportunity for growth.
"I think the biggest thing he'll take from it is kind of the mentality of professional players, right? How they approach the pre-game and the whole mental side of the game from that level."
All players in the Canadian soccer league took a knee eight minutes and 46 seconds into the game on Thursday to protest systemic racial discrimination and police brutality.
In a tweet Thursday, the league said the players collectively decided to play, although some players and teams have been showing solidarity since then on social media with athletes who have refused to play in other leagues.
Couturier, from Lower Coverdale, N.B., is not the only athlete to make the jump up from U Sports and the NCAA.
Page said goalkeepers Couturier and Isaac Wolters have both been going in for regular COVID-19 testing "in case they got called into that bubble."
He hopes Couturier will bring some of that experience back to the university program.
'I think the biggest thing he'll take from it is kind of the mentality of professional players.' - UPEI soccer coach Lewis Page
Islanders can watch coverage of the matchup between the HFX Wanderers FC and York9 FC in Charlottetown on CBC at 4 p.m.