VANCOUVER - Learning a professional playbook in a couple of weeks is a daunting task for a young football player. Learning a second language in a couple of days is both exciting and stressful according to one of the newest Montreal Alouettes, Dominique Termansen.
"I'm using this app called 'Duolingo'. It's sort of like the Rosetta Stone for dummies. It's helped me a lot," laughs Termansen, who is taking a break from apartment hunting in Montreal to chat. "I took French and Spanish all through elementary school, but I'm a long way away from being able to talk to anyone fluently."
The last month for UBC's star defensive back has been in his own words, 'full of lots of unpredictability'. Termansen, who recorded 50.5 tackles and an interception for the 2015 Vanier Cup champions, spent the opening days of the 2016 CFL season on the Montreal Alouettes practice roster, before getting called into active duty for the team's season opening victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"I had a meeting with (Alouettes GM) Jim Popp who said he would put me on the practice roster, but warned me I could be activated as early as week one," explains Termansen. "I'm now starting on three different special teams and having the opportunity to play multiple positions in the defensive backfield. They have me at 'gunner' on punt coverage. On kick-offs I'm just flying down the field and getting after the ball. I'm trying to become a special teams demon."
The promotion was welcome. The responsibilities that came with it were, let's just say a bit of an opportunity. "If you're on the practice roster they give you a place to live. If you're not on the practice roster and you're active, you're now responsible for taking care of finding a place. So just looking for a place alone and not knowing any street names, not speaking any French, being in a city bigger than Vancouver, and having no sense of direction is an exciting experience, but can be stressful at times."
Languages and street names can be learnt in time. What can't be are the talents Termansen has been blessed with according to his former sideline boss at UBC. "There has never been any question regarding his athletic skill sets. He showed that at both the regional and CFL combines," explains UBC head football coach Blake Nill. "The professionals were waiting for him to show the ability to compete at the CFL level and adjust to the responsibilities of being a professional player. Obviously Montreal feels he has been able to do that. Nik should be given a lot of credit for doing so."
With Montreal looking to bounce back from a dreadful 2015 season that saw them go 6-12 and miss the playoffs, Termansen knows what he must do to be part of the resurgence in 'La métropole'. "With the size and the strength of the players I'm up against, you really have to be focused. The majority of people are bigger and stronger, but just being in the playbook and knowing what technique to use helps you through those minor shortcomings in physicality."
Termansen will have a bit of extra time to find an apartment in Montreal. The Alouettes are on a bye week and won't play again until July 15th at home versus Hamilton.