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Nunavut's Arctic Winter Games volleyball team takes training camp to Caribbean

Nunavut's Arctic Winter Games volleyball teams are taking a tropical approach to preparing for the March competition this year, starting their journey to Nuuk, Greenland, on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten-St. Martin.

Teams prepare for 2016 AWG with 10-day training camp in St. Maarten

Nunavut's junior men's and women's teams pose for a photo in between beach training sessions. The teams are training in St. Maarten in the Caribbean for the 2016 Arctic Winter Games. (submitted by Volleyball Nunavut)

Nunavut's Arctic Winter Games volleyball teams are taking a tropical approach to preparing for the March competition this year, starting their journey to Nuuk, Greenland, on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten-St. Martin.

The territory's high performance junior men's and women's teams, which will represent Nunavut at the Games, are just wrapping up a 10-day training camp on the island.

"They are having the time of their lives," says Shylah Elliott, the president of Volleyball Nunavut.

Their first practice was held on an outdoor court, which meant the teams had to deal with wind and sun — a far cry from the cold temperatures of Nunavut.

During their camp, the teams practised on outdoor courts, which introduced variables like wind and sun into their training. (submitted by Volleyball Nunavut)

"It was a bit of culture shock, a bit of a climate shock first when they got here," Elliott says.

"They're finding it really hot, but they're working so hard and they're overcoming any of those challenges."

Elliott says the organization has been fundraising for years to help pay for the trip for the 10 boys and 10 girls, who are from all across Nunavut.

"These kids are all so far-flung from each other," she says.

"They're lucky if we can get them together twice a year to play together. That always sets them at such a great disadvantage.

"I'm just really impressed at their work ethic on this trip and how much they're really soaking in the opportunity."

'To see them grow together is really magnificent'

On Monday, the teams tested themselves against St. Maarten's junior national teams. The men acquitted themselves well in a loss, while Nunavut's junior women's team picked up the win.

Arviat's Jillian Kaviok, who plays on the junior women's team, said she's happy with how the training has gone so far, despite the Caribbean heat.

"It's really nice here and really hot," she said. 

"It's not something we're used to. We've been practising outside, and we have lots of support from our coaches."

Kaviok says they've made some time to see the sights, as well.

"We've been going to the beach and experiencing a lot of things that we wouldn't back home," she said.

"Just enjoying the weather."

The 2016 Arctic Winter Games will take place March 6-12 in Nuuk, Greenland, and Elliott says she expects two gold medals from the teams.

"But either way, we're proud of them and how far they've come," she adds.

"To see them grow together is really magnificent."

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