North

N.W.T. sending its first archery team to Canada Winter Games

Archery was named an official sport in the Canada Winter Games in 1977. This is the first time athletes will represent the Northwest Territories.

Games run from Feb.15 to March 3 in Red Deer, Alta.

The Northwest Territories will send four athletes to Red Deer, Alta., as part of its archery team for the Canada Winter Games in February. Cynthia White, top left, says she is excited for the young athletes to experience the tough competition. (Submitted by Aboriginal Sports Circle)

Northwest Territories sports fans will notice something different about this year's Canada Winter Games: next month the territory will be sending an archery team to compete for the first time.

Cynthia White, one of the team's coaches, said she expects the young team will soak up the experience. 

"We want them to walk away from this still loving archery and being ready for the Arctic Winter Games," said White, who's based in Fort Smith.

The 14th installment of the games is being hosted in Red Deer, Alta. It will run from Feb. 15 to March 3. Archery is one of about 20 multi-level sports at the biennial event, which alternates with the summer games.

Officials with the N.W.T.'s Sport North Federation confirmed this is the territory's first archery team competing.

Our younger athletes will probably be a bit more nervous.- Cynthia White, coach

It's made up of four athletes: Tayla Minute and Ferghus Rutherford-Simon are from Fort Smith, while Katie Genge and Bailey Johnston are from Yellowknife.

Three out of four of the athletes on the team have competed at other high-level tournaments such as the Arctic Winter Games and the North American Indigenous Games, said White.  

"We could see some athletes who feel very comfortable," she said. "Any of them could perform really well depending on the day ... our younger athletes will probably be a bit more nervous."

Johnston, 15, is the oldest athlete on the team. Rutherford-Simon, 11, is the youngest.

Rutherford-Simon and Minute will take part in recurve archery and Genge and Johnston will compete in compound archery — the type of bow used is the only difference in the two categories.

About 20 competitors tried-out for the team. White said the team members are eager and show a love for the sport.

Archery growing in the N.W.T 

Aaron Wells is the executive director at the Aboriginal Sports Circle. (Submitted by Aaron Wells)

Archery was named an official sport in the Canada Winter Games in 1977. The Aboriginal Sports Circle sought to teach communities about the sport about six or seven years ago, said Aaron Wells, its executive director.

"Especially in the smaller communities, individual sports tend to thrive," he said. "Even though maybe they don't have as much experience, I know the growth the coaches have seen in the athletes over the last year and a half to two years has been tremendous." 

The sports circle has introduced archery camps in 25 N.W.T. communities, including Hay River, Fort Smith and Paulatuk. In some cases they have left equipment behind in the hopes that athletes will develop a passion to get better, said Wells.

"Our goal was to show the communities other sports that have cultural ties and that maybe could have some uptake," he said.

"I would hope for the competitors to have a meaningful experience and show they're improving their scores time after time." 

The N.W.T's archery team will take aim at the competition starting Feb. 26.

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