Battle tested keeper provides stability for Trojans
Seth Van Loon came under fire in net for the SAIT Trojans soccer team this season, but for him it is nothing new.
Van Loon, who has been an army medic for three and a half years, came to SAIT this season to complete his Primary Care Paramedic course for the Canadian military.
Training with the Canadian military has given him strong leadership qualities, an important aspect for a goalkeeper, who prefers to lead by example.
“If I lead, I will show it on the field. I don’t talk much, but when I do, the team will listen,” he said.
At 32 years old, Van Loon was an ideal role model for a young Trojans team this season, and was well respected in the locker room.
“The discipline that he had not only helped his own play but showed the younger players what is needed to not only perform on a college soccer field but in the classroom and life,” said Daniel Broadhurst, a teammate of Van Loon.
One of the main reasons Van Loon came to SAIT was to tune his skills as a goalkeeper, as he is looking to try out for the men’s military national team.
His 10 month EMT program is paid for by the Canadian military. When he has completed his studies, there will be a 24 month period in which he could be deployed anywhere in the world, something he is looking forward to.
The demanding physical aspect of being an army medic appealed to Van Loon.
“I liked the job description, I liked the fact that if you are a strong athlete they have a lot of respect for that,” he said. “It plays to both of my strengths.”
Van Loon has gone through extensive training and feels he is ready for any situation in combat. His weapons training included mastering his skills with a handgun, shotgun, grenades, two machine guns, and the C7 (M16).
In the field, he is responsible for giving medical aid to a team of 20 soldiers.
“You need to be confident, and trust yourself. It is important to be able to work independently, and improvise if needed. You do everything you can to save someone’s life.”
Many of Van Loon’s teammates were intrigued about his military background, and he enjoyed sharing his stories with them on road trips.
“In the change room and on the bus he would tell us stories of his training that he does, and things he’s seen, usually everybody would stop what they were doing and listen,” said Broadhurst.
Despite Van Loon’s best efforts in net, the young Trojans struggled this season with a record of 3-5-2, missing the playoffs.
Van Loon hopes to spend the next 20 years of his life serving as an army medic. His goal is to be promoted to major corporal, a role that takes on much more responsibility.
Van Loon thinks the war in Afghanistan has given Canadians more awareness of what the military is capable of.
“People don’t just see Canada as a peacekeeping nation only,” he said. “They are well trained to go into hostile areas to fight.”
And while Van Loon has never been in live combat, he feels he is ready for the challenge.
“I don’t think you can ever fully prepare yourself [mentally] for a situation like that,” he said. “All I can do is stay diligent, be extremely vigilant about the training, and do every extra course I can.
“All you have is your training.”