Justin McInnis has been feeling young this week as the Saskatchewan Roughriders catcher prepares to make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders.
“Since I received the news, I have felt like a child at Christmas,” said McInnis. “I am very excited to go out again.
“It’s been the 2019 season that I stepped onto the pitch so I’m really ready to go out there and make my mark.”
And while McInnis feels like a kid again, he’s also thinking of his own daughter, two-year-old Aria, who will be in the stands, providing all the inspiration the 25-year-old needs.
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“It’s going to be very exciting,” McInnis said. “Talk about something that will keep you motivated before the game, during the game, after the game.
“I’m probably going to look at it a lot of times, but at the end of the day I have to stay focused on what’s happening on the field.”
With Mitchell Picton heading to the one-game disabled list, he paved the way for McInnis, who was the Riders’ first-round draft pick in 2019, to return to the lineup after getting hurt earlier this year.
“He’s a good football player,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said of McInnis, who played 14 games in 2019. which is 100 percent.
The Stampeders hope to use the bye break to their advantage against the Roughriders.
“He has earned an opportunity to play and with Picton a bit beaten up, it just worked.”
And while McInnis has been preparing all season for this moment, he has also been busy outside the stadium, babysitting a young child while his fiancee Brittany finishes nursing school in the United States. And with his first start to 2021 on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, McInnis is beyond grateful for all the support around him.
“This whole week, my family has been very excited,” McInnis said. “They have kept me awake all the time and all this year, telling me to carry on, so I am very grateful for all of them.”
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