Teams from Hay River made an impact at the annual Lawrie Hobart Memorial Volleyball Tournament in Fort Smith.
Six teams from Hay River won medals at the school tournament, held from Oct. 18-21.
Heather Coakwell was co-coach of four girls’ teams from Diamond Jenness, including an Under-15 team which claimed silver.
“All of the teams did extremely well,” said Coakwell.
She noted the U15 team had students from Grade 8 through Grade 10, and they are players who are just getting used to competitive volleyball.
It was Coakwell’s third time coaching at the Lawrie Hobart Memorial Volleyball Tournament.
It started in 1991 as the PWK Invitational Volleyball Tournament, but was renamed the Lawrie Hobart Memorial 11 years ago to honour the long-time Northern educator and original organizer of the event.
“Lawrie Hobart was a sports advocate and the tournament is in honour of his memory,” said Coakwell. “I enjoy this tournament as Hay River makes an effort to send as many teams as possible.”
Finno Celestin, an educational assistant at Princess Alexandra School, coached the Grade 6 and Grade 7 boys’ teams from the school.
It was his first time at the Lawrie Hobart Memorial Volleyball Tournament
“It’s a pretty big tournament and I thought it was very well-organized,” he said. “It was lots of fun, as well.”
Celestin said such tournaments are a learning experience for students.
“The most special part for me at these tournaments is always, especially for Grade 6 and 7 (players), it’s often their first or second experience in a tournament, and I think it’s always something amazing to see how these kids do on that first game versus that last game,” he said. “They just pick up so much. It’s not only just a sporting experience, it’s a lifetime learning experience.”
Alijah Famorcan, a Grade 7 student at Princess Alexandra School, said it felt great when his team won a bronze medal.
“We did really good,” he said. “Lot of great serving.”
Famorcan said he likes going to such tournaments.
“It tests our skills for volleyball,” he said, adding that makes for better players in future tournaments.
Allie McDonald, a member of the organizing committee for the tournament, said this year’s event attracted 34 teams, including 20 teams from outside Fort Smith.
Along with the three schools from Hay River, other teams came from K’alemi Dene School in Ndilo, Sir John Franklin High School in Yellowknife, St. Patrick High School in Yellowknife, Paul William Kaeser High School in Fort Smith, and Joseph Burr Tyrell Elementary School in Fort Smith.
“This was a smaller number than usual as transportation is a huge issue for many schools,” said McDonald.
She noted that hosting such a large tournament in Fort Smith is a great way to bring people together.
McDonald said the Fort Smith event is also an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their skills and prepare for Spike It! tournaments in Yellowknife.