Team spirit

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

The territory of Nunavut may be Canada's smallest, but its badminton team is making it big, on and off the court at the Western Canada Summer Games.

Off the court they acted as ambassadors to their native land and let other athletes, volunteers and anyone wanting to know about what life is like up in the 'Great White North.'

"This has been a blast. Where I come from we don't get much of a challenge. I knew it was going to be hard competition, but I wanted to reach my goals and I did that," said Trevor Kringayark, who hails from Repulse Bay.

"It's been neat to experience life down here and the people want to know about where I come from and I am more than happy to tell them."

Kringayark spoke highly about life up in the arctic and how there is no such thing as a paved road and they get around by skidoos and all-terrain vehicles. They hunt many animals such as whales and caribou and the wildlife are one of the main sources of food.

"It's like country, nothing but animals and rocks and it's so beautiful," explained Kringayark.

"It's like living a dream up there. I wouldn't change it for the world."

The team is made up of 10 different athletes from seven small communities across the territory.

That may seem like a typical provincial team, however in this case, it's very unique because these athletes are scattered across the territory and their only way of getting to and from different communities is by plane.

The distance travelled for many of these young athletes would be to compare a trip from Alberta to Manitoba in many cases.

Each athlete strictly trains with a coach in their community and they may have others who hail from the same community, but the only time they are able to compete amongst each other is once a year in a territorial open tournament.

"You have to give a lot of credit to these kids," said Kyle Seeley, who is part of Team Nunavut mission staff. "They don't have as many resources to utilize up there like many of the other provinces and they train very hard to be in the best shape, and for many of them they do it on their own."

Head coach Karen McLarty who has been volunteering her time up north for the past 15 years said every year they try to meet at one training camp location to save on costs.

This year they spent a week prior to the Games in Stettler, fine tuning their skills and it paid off immensely.

The team may have come away empty handed in the medal department, but they gained a lot of experience as badminton players, and they educated many of the people associated with the Summer Games what it's like to be from Nunavut.

"The biggest thing that I saw as a coach was our team spirit, they were cheering on everybody. I heard so many times from people who said how our athletes had such great sportsmanship.

"In some of our games we were able to take 14 or 15 points away against athletes from Alberta and B.C. and that's a big accomplishment for these kids."

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TEAM NUNAVUT

BADMINTON

Gary Tinashiu

Trevor Kringayark

Douglas Nanordluk

David Palliak

Stephan Angotialuk

Kelli McLarty

Angela Okalik

Paula Piryuaq

Joni Pooyatak

Renee Pudnak

Karen McLarty- head coach

Michael Putlik- mentor coach

Stephan Keoghan-Manager


Photos