Big money and big bragging rights in the Kitikmeot region were up for grabs on the volleyball court earlier this month.
The Gold Diggers Volleyball Tournament brought together a total of 16 teams – eight men’s and eight women’s – from Taloyoak, Naujaat and Gjoa Haven, the host community and when the dust settled, it was Gjoa Haven and Naujaat that left with the spoils.
The Serve-ivors of Gjoa Haven took the women’s title thanks to a 3-2 win in sets over The A-Team in an exciting final that literally went back and forth, according to tournament organizer Flora Arqviq, who also happened to play on the championship team.
“We won the first, they won the second, we won the third, they won the fourth and we won the fifth,” she said.
The top four teams in each division ended up making the semifinal with each team getting a three-game guarantee. The Gjoa Haven Lightnings won the third-place game to take home the bronze medal and a cheque for $2,000.
The reward for the Serve-ivors was a winner’s share of $5,000 and the gold medals while The A-Team got silver and $3,000.
On the men’s side, Team Naujaat ended up taking the title and $5,000 back to the Kivalliq region thanks to their win over Team Taluk of Taloyoak in the final. The Warriors of Naujaat ended up third to win the bronze medal and $2,000.
“The teams from Naujaat told us that they had more fun playing in our tournament than in the LGM (Laura Gauthier Memorial),” said Arqviq. “That was really nice to hear.”
Getting the prize money and medals together took almost a year’s worth of fundraising, said Arqviq.
“We ran six bingos and two bazaars,” she said.
Their efforts paid off as more than $20,000 was raised to help the tournament go off.
This was the seventh year that the tournament has happened in Gjoa Haven and Arqviq is hopeful it will become a bigger event on the Volleyball Nunavut calendar with the ultimate goal of being part of the Nunavut Open Volleyball Tour (NOVT), the newly-created initiative by Volleyball Nunavut to help determine the teams that will play in the Nunavut Open Championships next month in Iqaluit.
The tour includes the LGM in Rankin Inlet and the Iqaluit Open as part of the tour but there was no stop in the Kitikmeot region, something Scott Schutz, Volleyball Nunavut’s executive director, hopes will change going forward.
“I’m hoping it will become the Kitikmeot region event,” he said. “The challenge is with the dates being so close to the Nunavut Open, how would we get a team there in time?”
Schutz said the board of Volleyball Nunavut will be sitting down to talk about how to make it fit in the schedule and that conversation would most likely include the boards of the LGM and Iqaluit Open.
“Right now, timing is the issue,” he said. “We’ve already been preparing for the Nunavut Open for two months so getting a team from the Kitikmeot region in April would be tough to do. The scenario could look like doing the Kitikmeot region first, then the Kivalliq, then the Baffin region but that would involve dates being adjusted. We just need to get everyone around the table and develop a season because it’s obvious people want to play volleyball. Our job is to help them play.”