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Few Inuvik athletes make it on Arctic Winter Game teams
Basketball trials held in Inuvik, coaches look for dedication

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 15, 2011

Of the 40 players from Inuvik who attended Arctic Winter Game trials, only seven will attend the games in Whitehorse next year.

NNSL photo/graphic

Potential Arctic Winter Games basketball team members from across the NWT. The boys vied for ten spots and three alternate positions to play at the games in March in Whitehorse. - Samantha Stokell/NNSL photo

Six other athletes will practise with the teams, but only as alternates for the international games, to be held from March 4 to 10. On the volleyball teams, Paulousie Ittunga and James Day will play on the men's team and Kaitlyn Christie will be an alternate for the women's team.

In hockey, Evan Lemieux will play on the midget team, with Matthew Skinner as an alternate. The women's hockey team has two Inuvik representatives in Darcie Setzer and Shannon Baetz.

The figure skating team will see Rachel Watters competing on the Ladies 3, Winter Ross on Ladies 1 and Annika Krizan will be an alternate for Ladies 2.

Three other Inuvik athletes will fill in as alternates for other sports: Alyssa Ross for indoor soccer, Orion Donovan for ski biathlon and Chloe Larocque for basketball.

Athletes travelled around the territory to either Yellowknife or Hay River from Dec. 8 to 11 to try out.

Inuvik hosted the men's and women's under-19 basketball trials for the games. For the girl's team, 19 players tried out, while 20 boys had to compete for spots on the team. The coaches eventually chose 10 players plus alternates to represent the territory. Four girls tried out for the team and only one made it as an alternate.

Jason Dayman, vice-principal of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School and director of player development for Basketball NWT, said the school is doing its part to increase the number of children playing the sport in Inuvik.

"We have a boys and girls program at the elementary school and are trying to develop it at the grassroots level," Dayman said. "(The tryouts) are an opportunity for the kids to see the skill level of the rest of the territory."

Cole Marshall is the coach of the Arctic Winter Games girls basketball team and looked for players who have dedication, do their best and have a knowledge of the game. He acknowledged the challenge players from the communities have in competing with Yellowknife players, who have a high performance program.

"It's a little overwhelming for them because they might be the best in their community and then they're playing against girls who have better opportunities to play more often," Marshall said. "Some are fantastic athletes and others just don't have the opportunity in the gym. It's just about getting the girls out."

Nick Diem, coach of the boy's basketball team, also looked for players with dedication, a positive attitude, are physically fit and have determination for his team.

No players from Inuvik tried out for the team. For players that make the team from communities outside Yellowknife, it's difficult to train together but Diem plans to have the team attend a tournament in Fort Simpson and training camps in different places.

The players that make the Arctic Winter Games teams are also likely to play together in the next couple years at the Canada Games and Western Games, Diem said. Having these opportunities allows the athletes to form more of a team mindset, despite the distance between communities.

Another set of Arctic Winter Game trials will happen in January for Arctic sports, badminton, curling, Dene games, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speedskating and wrestling. Thirty-seven athletes from Inuvik will attend those trials.

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