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Two Simpson athletes make the cut for AWG team
Deh Cho will be represented in basketball and soccer

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two Fort Simpson athletes have been chosen to join teams for the Arctic Winter Games while another two are standing by as alternates.

NNSL photo/graphic

Alex Roche of Fort Simpson maneuvers the ball during the final day of the Arctic Winter Games trials for the junior boys' soccer team in Yellowknife on Dec. 10. Roche made the cut for the team. - Richard McIntosh/NNSL photo

Laurent Isaiah will be part of the NWT men's basketball team while Alex Roche, 16, who's currently attending school and practising in Yellowknife, will be on the junior male soccer team. Both athletes attended the Arctic Winter Games trials that took place from Dec. 8 to 11.

For Isaiah, making the basketball team was an act of willpower. Isaiah, 17, was sick during the first day of the trials that took place in Inuvik.

Despite not feeling well enough to eat, Isaiah made it through the first day of fitness testing that involved pushups, planks, circuits and beep tests.

Fitness testing continued into the second day while the third was used to test skills including shooting, dribbling and defense.

On Sunday the athletes were given the chance to display the skills they'd learned during games.

Isaiah said he didn't think he'd make the team, at first, because he was sick during the fitness testing. Being chosen was a bit of a surprise.

"It felt pretty good to make the team," he said.

This will be Isaiah's first time at the games and, because of his age, it will also be his last.

To start preparing for the games, Isaiah said he will be training over the Christmas break and will start a specific leg-training regime to help with his vertical game.

Fort Simpson athletes who were named as alternates for teams are also developing training plans to stay in shape in case they are called up.

Devan Horassi, 15, is an alternate for the junior male soccer team while Kevin Anavilok-Roche, 14, is the first alternate for the juvenile male soccer team.

Anavilok-Roche spent four days in Yellowknife at the soccer trials.

"It was almost one big test," he said.

During the course of the trials the athletes completed drills, focused on technical skills and played a lot of soccer games.

This was Anavilok-Roche's first time trying out for the games.

To prepare, he jogged and went cross-country skiing. He also worked on his ball-handling skills by juggling a soccer ball with his feet.

Anavilok-Roche said the coaches told him his cardio and ball-handling skills are where they should be but that he has to be able to keep the soccer ball off the ground for more than 250 kicks without dropping it.

Anavilok-Roche, who is Alex Roche's brother, said he will be attending soccer practices in Fort Simpson and doing more cardio to continue to prepare for the games, to be held in Whitehorse in March.

Next month he is also attending the speed skating trials for the games.

Horassi said he played between six to seven games over the course of three days during the trials. Athletes were cut during the trials and the ones who remained made the team, he said.

"I did better than I expected," he said.

Horassi said he's fine with being named an alternate and will continue practising in case athletes already on the team can't make it to the games.

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