A Games like no other
The Canada Games are the pinnacle of amateur sport for many in this country. Last week, a group from the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region participated in female hockey during the first week of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C. The Compass caught up with a pair of them.
“Walking in was the best part for sure. To see all the crowd as you entered the arena.” Kelsey Shute
Some lucky athletes get multiple cracks at the Canada Games — young enough to compete at least twice in either the winter or summer iterations of the sporting spectacle.
But, for those who get the single opportunity, there is nothing quite like testing yourself on the national stage.
For Dunville’s Abigail Gambin, Bareneed’s Brooke Williamson and Harbour Grace’s Kelsey Shute, the 2015 Canada Winter Games might be their only chance to showcase their skills to a Canada-wide audience.
“It was pretty unbelievable,” said Shute. “It was nothing like I expected.”
Clad in the familiar maroon of Team Newfoundland and Labrador, the trio, along with fellow Trinity-Conception-Placentia athlete Shailynn Snow (Clarke’s Beach), waved to the crowd as they made their way through the CN Centre in Prince George, B.C. as a part of the opening ceremonies. Snow, 13, will likely suite up again for Team NL at the next winter games.
“Walking in was the best part for sure,” said Shute. “To see all the crowd as you entered the arena.”
For the trio, it was their second such opening ceremonies. A year earlier, they were a part of the Avalon team that captured bronze at the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Clarenville. Albeit, Clarenville wasn’t quite as huge as the event in B.C.
“It was pretty cool we all made the team again and went to this next level,” said Gambin.
Avalon coach Jennifer Pollett, of New Harbour, was also in B.C. with the three members of that team as an assistant with Team NL.
Both Shute and Gambin had their immediate family in the building for all five games they played. Shute’s mother, sister and brother were there, while Gambin had her parents and younger sister cheering her on.
“They had a sign made that said ‘Go Abby Go,’” said Gambin. “It was pretty cool and good having the support.”
“It was great having family there,” added Shute.
Both athletes reveled in testing their skills against the best in the country.
There were the customary opening game nerves — “when the national anthem played, the nerves started going a bit,” said Shute — to deal with, but other than that they were pleased with how they played.
“It was great playing against the other teams,” said Gambin, a steady presence on the back end.
When the team wasn’t competing on the ice, there were plenty to do at the athlete’s village. They checked out some of the nightly entertainment provided to the athlete’s, and also showed their support for the other sports going on during their time there.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Gambin.
Dunville’s Abigail Gambin.
Harbour Grace’s Kelsey Shute.