With all the sports talk surrounding the 2019 Canada Winter Games next month, it’s easy to forget that there’s another big event coming up this year.
The Western Canada Summer Games are in Swift Current, Sask., this coming August and Athletics NWT is following in the footsteps of soccer and wrestling in getting its affairs in order. The first big order happened this past weekend as athletes from around the NWT were at St. Pat’s Gymnasium for a weekend camp.
Harry Cassie, president of Athletics NWT, was there and said the camp was for those who had been identified as a top track and field athlete in the territory.
“We had a working group of about six members that looked at the results from the past year’s meet in Hay River (NWT Track and Field Championships),” he said. “We looked at times and we looked at our standards. From there, we invited the best 24 runners, throwers and jumpers to form what we’re calling the cream of the crop. This is our first step in developing this group for the Western Canada Summer Games.”
Those who were at the camp were put through their paces with plenty of work done on technique and strength as evidenced by the amount of work done on sprinting and jumping.
The camp featured guest coaches from the Edmonton Columbians Track and Field Club in the form of David Lee Pong and Dallas Hendricks. Lee Pong would be a familiar name to some in the NWT as he spent quite a bit of time working with some of the territory’s athletes in the 1980s.
Cassie said part of Lee Pong’s and Hendricks’ work was primarily on developing the athletes, but they were also helping some of the local coaches who were at the camp.
“We have four of our coaches who (were) here to learn and observe,” he said. “The goal was to get them some exposure on how training is done.”
All of the coaches at the camp had completed Level I, he added, and the weekend was a practicum of sorts.
Luke Dizon is one athlete who’s already shown he can compete with some of the best down south, but even he learned something new at the camp.
“I learned how to better prepare myself for the long jump and how to improve my posture when I run,” he said.
While the athletes invited this past weekend represent the best from the 2018 territorial championships, the door hasn’t been closed on those who didn’t compete in Hay River.
Cassie said he knows there are athletes who are good enough and if they can meet the standard, they will be given a shot to make the final team.
“From here, we’re trying to get the message out that everyone can have an opportunity,” he said. “Nobody will be left out if they can show they can hit the standard. If they can show that they can perform, they will be considered.”