PICKERING -- When Alonzo Addae was sitting in front of his television watching a home game of the Dallas Cowboys, or the NCAA championship game between Ohio State and Oregon, he envisioned himself on the very same field making plays.
It was an exercise he hopes will prepare him for the real thing on Friday, Jan 30.
The Grade 12 student at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School will be a member of Canada's U18 team that will face Team USA in the International Bowl to be played at AT and T Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"One hundred per cent I was thinking about what I was going to be doing on that field," admits the 17 year old with a laugh.
Originally a soccer player with the Pickering Soccer Club, Addae played at both the regional and provincial levels. But when he was released from the provincial team, he turned to football upon entering Grade 9 at St. Mary.
"I had a lot of friends that were playing so that's what really got me interested, as well my family is really big into football," he says of the switch in sporting pursuits.
He joined the Ajax-Pickering Dolphins that summer, and soon found himself rising to the same level he reached in soccer. In 2013 he was part of Team Ontario that won the Canada Cup in New Brunswick, and duplicated the feat last year in Saskatoon. He was named an all-star in Saskatoon, which guaranteed the defensive back a spot on Team Canada for the International Bowl.
With this being the off-season and players strung across the country, the team faces some challenges.
"What the coaches have done is sent us the playbooks, from there they track our training," says Addae of the process. "Once we go down for the week, that will be our first time as a team and we'll have three-a-day practices and meetings."
He's been to the International Bowl as part of Team Ontario twice, but this will be the first time as part of the national program. Last year he got a tour and scrimmaged at Cowboy Stadium, but this will be the first time he will get to play an actual game. He says television doesn't do the stadium justice.
"Seeing it in person was definitely different than what I was expecting," he says. "I know it already looks huge, but seeing the actual number of seats there, the scenery. Especially going out on the field and taking it all in knowing you are on the same field NFL players play on, NCAA games are played there, knowing that, it's exciting."
As for his future beyond high school, Addae is entertaining a few options. He has an offer from Austin Peay University in Tennessee, and is in discussion with North Dakota, Central Michigan and Arizona. A little closer to home, CIS schools who have his interest are Laurier, Manitoba and Carleton.
He could also return to high school for a fifth and final year and take some more time before making a decision.
"Right now me and my family are trying to figure out whether or not I should take the fifth year and entertain more offers," he says. "The bigger schools that are interested in me, I got on their recruiting board late, so they know I have an option for a fifth year."
By returning to high school, it would give him a chance to visit a few more campuses and attend some camps, he adds.
Sports editor Brad Kelly covers all of Durham Region for Metroland Media Group.
As of our latest update from the city, all City of Pickering sports fields will be CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.
For additional or up to the minute information please contact:
Pickering Service Disruption Line: 1.866.278.9993
Ajax Field Condition Hotline: 905-619-2529 ext 4124