Halifax rugby player gears up for hometown-hosted international game
When Cooper Coats first stepped foot on the rugby field in grade 12, he had little idea he would eventually lace up his cleats to represent Canada.
What started as an activity with his Citadel High School friends quickly formed into a rooted lifestyle for Coats.
"Couple buddies were trying out the sport, so I figured I'd come out and join and ended up falling in love with it, started taking it pretty seriously," said Coats.
After high school, he joined the Acadia University rugby team, and was later selected to train at the Sevens program in Victoria B.C.
Now, the athlete is a member on the Canadian team and is gearing up to play Belgium in the Men's Rugby 15s in the city's downtown core.
"Right now, for me, it just sounds so surreal because I'm able to play test match for Canada at home in Halifax downtown. You know, I went to Citadel High School and the school is right there," he said.
He holds Halifax close to his heart, honouring those who have supported his rugby career.
"I can't thank those people enough because those are the people that eventually got me that spotlight to eventually get selected for Canada," he said.
Playing on the field across from his little league soccer stomping grounds allows Coats to appreciate his unforeseen journey, and he adds he is looking forward to having his family at the game.
"I've been trying to take a couple moments during training sessions, this is the field I grew up playing soccer on ever since I was a little kid and just seeing the guys explore Halifax, you know the city that I've grown up in and became the person that I am today, it is pretty incredible to have everyone here," said Coats.
The national team consists of athletes from different backgrounds, which Coats says can make for a strong dynamic throughout the season.
"It's great to see, you know, a collaborative environment with all these different leagues and set ups so it should be a very good team moving forward," he said.
The game will be held at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax on Saturday.