A new lineup will grace the walk-on for Team NT at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., and it will be an historic team at that.
For the first time ever, the territory will be sending an archery team and that squad was selected on Saturday following the trials at Sir John Franklin Gymnasium. From the trials, four athletes were picked and two of them hail from Yellowknife: Katie Genge and Bailey Johnston.
Eugene Roach was one of the coaches who selected the squad and said several factors went into picking the “fab four”, as he referred to them.
“Scores were the big thing,” he said. “We also looked at their attitude and their coachability, but the scoring was the deciding factor.”
Archery at the Canada Winter Games will be done using what’s known as the Vegas Shoot method, where three targets, each with three rings, are placed at a distance with each archer getting two minutes to shoot their three arrows. Scores range from six points for the outer ring to 10 points for the bullseye, meaning a perfect score for a round would be 300.
Those who tried out competed in three full rounds and Roach said everyone kept improving as the archery went on.
“You could see the scores reflecting the improvement,” he said.
Genge is arguably one of the top young archers in the NWT with territorial titles under her belt already, but she almost didn’t make it to the trials, said Roach.
“She was torn between volleyball and archery, but volleyball isn’t at the Canada Winter Games,” he said. “She’s a 3-D specialist, which is what we used at the territorial championships back in June, but she stepped right in and displayed why she’s so talented.”
Both styles of archery will be used at the Games – recurve and compound – and oddly enough, both of the Yellowknife archers are compound archers, which is also Roach’s forte.
“I think it’s a reflection of the coaching the athletes have had,” said Roach. “The archers here in Yellowknife have had more work on compound and the other two athletes from Fort Smith have been working on recurve, which is what Cynthia (White, co-coach from Fort Smith) has been working on more.”
As mentioned, this will be the first time the territory takes on the rest of the country in archery and Roach doesn’t have illusions of grandeur when it comes to the results.
“Obviously, we’re focusing on participation because this is our first time,” he said. “The skill level isn’t there yet and the provinces will be better, but all I want them to do is try their best and take it all in.”.
Being at the Games will be a boost for the sport in the NWT for the future, he added.
“Archery is a great sport for the North,” he said. “It’s a sport you can do by yourself, with no having to worry about a group to practice with. If we work with our archers, we could be up there with the provinces and we could have some future champions.”