To be the man, you gotta beat the man. So said professional wrestler Ric Flair.
If recent results are anything to go by, Gjoa Haven’s 18U boys volleyball team, known as the Snowy Owls, are the men and they are still the men until they’re knocked off.
The Snowy Owls have had quite the run of success in the last few weeks and put a bow on it by winning the Gold Diggers Tournament in their home community earlier this month, besting seven other teams from Taloyoak and Gjoa Haven to do it.
That win came on the heels of their victory at the Nunavut 18U Championships in Iqaluit last month and another at a tournament in Taloyoak against an entire compliment of senior men’s teams, no less.
Their success has been a bit of a surprise to their coach, Carol Takkiruq.
“It’s really surprising to see them do so well and represent their community the way they have,” she said. “They all put in lots of hard work and they play together as a team. That’s how they’ve won.”
Takkiruq began working with the boys three years ago and helped them grow into a tight-knit unit. Three of the players – Brent Puqiqnak, Thomas Porter and Brendan Jewell – even went on to play at the Arctic Winter Games with the boys team that finished fourth this past March in Hay River, NWT. This was a source of pride for Takkiruq.
She said the experience the boys had there really helped with their development.
“They learned a lot and they came back and showed everyone else what they learned,” she said.
The boys started practising this year when school started in August but ramped up their schedule after the Arctic Winter Games in preparation for the final push of the season.
Their season came to an end after the Gold Diggers Tournament, but Takkiruq said they will be back at it in August when the new school year starts up.
“We have two players who will be too old for next year but I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back together as a team for the Gold Diggers next year and defend our title,” she said.
For now, Takkiruq is just proud of what her boys did this season.
“I’m just so impressed with what they were able to do,” she said. “They’ve helped each other out all year and they supported each other. Winning those tournaments was tough to do but they did it and our community should be proud of them.”