Ian McDonald of Iqaluit is going to make history this weekend when he becomes one of the first four Nunavummiut to play in a competitive game of beach volleyball.
Before that happens, McDonald got one more piece of good news from Team Nunavut and it’s news that has him, in his words, humbled and honoured.
McDonald will join a rather exclusive list of people from the territory who have carried the Nunavut flag into a major competition when he leads Team Nunavut into the Western Canada Summer Games opening ceremony on Friday evening.
He was given the news literally minutes after being contacted by NNSL and needless to say, he was still taking it in.
“I just got told five minutes after I got here (to Swift Current),” he said. “I’m stoked about it all. I’m very humbled and honoured to lead this team.”
He got the news from his coach, Rob Tomyn, and it came as a complete surprise.
“It’s just so awesome to be the face of Nunavut at these Games and I’m hoping to be a good representative for my home, especially at a big event like this,” he said.
McDonald will partner with Brent Puqiqnak of Gjoa Haven in the boys beach volleyball competition and they will get two round-robin games against Manitoba Gold and Alberta Grey when the event begins on Saturday.
He’s played indoor volleyball for several years but when he heard about the introduction of a beach program, he said he had to get in on it.
“I was very interested and so I sent in my application to try out,” he said. “We’re going to be the first team to do this and I just hope we can be competitive as we can. Brent and I haven’t played together with just the two of us but we’ve been teammates at the (2018) Arctic Winter Games and (2017) North American Indigenous Games so we know each other well.”
Scott Schutz, Volleyball Nunavut’s executive director, previously told NNSL that the goal is to work toward the Canada Summer Games in 2021 and that the Western Canada Summer Games will be a gauge to see where the sport is at in Nunavut.
McDonald said he’s hopeful to be a part of the 2021 team.
“I know others will be training and working hard to be on the team but I’m hoping I will get to play in Ontario,” he said.
There was plenty of thanks from McDonald to those who helped him get to where he’s at right now.
“Rob is my very first beach volleyball coach and he’s been a great help,” he said. “Sonja Lonsdale, the girls coach, has helped, too. John Legate back home and Susie Pearce and Bev Netusil, the girls indoor coach, they’ve all helped me, and Scott Schutz. He does so much for Volleyball Nunavut and he organized this whole thing. Who’d have thought we would ever be here playing beach volleyball?”