Three Haisla youths came away with medals from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), held in Regina in July.
Representing basketball was Megan Metz and James Harry Jr., and Josh Grant earned his medal playing soccer.
It was a long road to get to the high level competition, especially for James and Megan, whose team is composed of players from all across B.C., making practice an exercise in logistics.
Josh benefitted from year-long practices due to his team being primarily composed of northwestern players.
“For us, at first we were told it was only going to be one day practice and that’d be it,” said Megan. “Then it ended up being two weeks, and we went to a bunch of different gyms and practices from nine in the morning…to three.”
Those practices, though, earned her U16 basketball team a silver medal.
The U16 Females faced a tough match against their gold medal match rivals, Wisconsin.
The U14 Male basketball team with James Harry Jr. had to face down Team Colorado in their final which earned them a bronze medal.
That said, James said it was Manitoba which provided the real fight. Their match against Manitoba was tight, resulting in 57-54 for the central Canada team. Team BC took down Colorado for the bronze 54-42.
Josh’s U16 Male Team BC topped the results with a gold medal for soccer, following a 2-1 win over Saskatchewan. Josh’s team in fact went undefeated the entire tournament, and their gold was their second victory over Saskatchewan the two having met the day prior for a BC win of 3-2.
All three say playing in front of much larger crowds didn’t change their efforts on the field or the court, but getting to Regina was a bit of a shock in terms of the sheer number of people who attended the event, between participants and spectators.
“Way more than I expected,” said Megan. “Walking in to opening ceremonies. When you first look ahead you see empty seats, then you turn and see it packed in there. It’s crazy.”
The three do plan to continue in athletics, and may return to the Games next year.