It will be the single-largest team making the trip to the Western Canada Summer Games and the goal is to simply be the best in the NWT.
A total of 24 athletes from around the territory, including 10 from Yellowknife, make up the track and field team that will hit the track in Swift Current, Sask., next month. The team roster was officially released by Athletics NWT earlier this month.
Harry Cassie will be the team’s head coach and he said the team was put together using results beginning with the 2018 NWT Track and Field Championships in Hay River.
“We first identified athletes after that meet and then we had a camp for them in Yellowknife (earlier this year),” he said.
But not everyone who made the team was identified back then and Cassie said the idea wasn’t to exclude anyone from being selected.
“Just because we didn’t identify them then didn’t mean we weren’t looking,” he said. “They may have been close but maybe they just needed a bit more training at the time.”
The 2019 NWT Track and Field Championships last month was the final meet Cassie used to put his team together and he said it was the main selection meet.
Not every athlete will be competing in every event in Swift Current. They’ve been given their specialty event, the one which Cassie believes they can do the best in, and were given the chance to choose another event they felt they were good at.
“We tried to single out one event for each athlete in order to give us a full team of 24, that’s the most we can bring,” he said. “For example, someone like Hannah Courtoreille will do the 100-metre for her main event race and she chose the 200-metre as her event.”
Courtoreille admitted she’s more of a sprinter and chose to stay on the track.
“Harry did ask me if I was interested in doing field events but I’m not really a jumper or even a mid-distance runner,” she said.
The team won’t be having any sort of camp ahead of the Games but Cassie’s plan is to have as much of the team as possible attend the Sherwood Park Track Classic later this month in Edmonton.
He said the goal is to get the athletes used to running on a rubberized track, similar to what they’ll get in Swift Current.
“Some of the athletes have already been on a rubberized track before but most of the athletes up here are used to running on shale or gravel,” he said. “A rubberized track is so much different and so I want them to get at least one meet on it to get the feel of it.”
There are neither big dreams nor illusions of grandeur about results for Cassie. The main goal for him is for the athletes to try and set new NWT records and if a podium finish comes, that will be a big bonus.
“To be honest, none of the athletes met the standard in Hay River because of the conditions back then,” said Cassie. “Setting NWT records would be great but being realistic, a podium finish is a long shot. I’m not saying it’s impossible but we’re looking for the athletes to challenge the territorial records.”
Courtoreille is of the same mindset.
“The competition is going to be really tough,” she said. “I’m hoping to go and represent the NWT as best as I can and hopefully get myself a personal best.”
Western Canada Summer Games track and field team
Emmanuel Lamvu, Yellowknife; Lance Dizon, Yellowknife; Ajogu Abba, Inuvik; Stryden Hult-Griffin, Inuvik; Declan Munro, Hay River; Nicolas Bennett, Yellowknife; Zack Horton, Hay River; Ethan McKay, Hay River; Ethan Zettler, Yellowknife; Bryce Smith, Hay River; Luke Dizon, Yellowknife
Hannah Courtoreille, Yellowknife; Fiona Huang, Hay River; Rochelle Smith, Hay River; Destiny Hobbs-Stewart, Yellowknife; Haley Cassie, Norman Wells; Reegan Jungkind, Hay River; Kayleigh Hunter, Fort Resolution; Katie Hart, Yellowknife; Devyn Dievert, Fort Smith; Chandelle Leonard, Hay River; Dora Faye Hansen, Fort Smith; Lindsey Woodford, Yellowknife; Crystal Kisakye, Yellowknife