Family volleyballers golden in Rankin

by Darrell Greer- November 13, 2017

There’s a whole new glitter inside the Dias family home following the annual Laura Gauthier Memorial (LGM) volleyball tournament in Rankin Inlet this past month.

The 2017 Laura Gauthier Memorial volleyball tournament men’s champion Team HangNBang are, back row from left, Tristen Dias, Gary Noolook, Kyle Johnston and Tyrese Dias, and, front from left, Robert Kabvitok, Tony Dias, Tyler Pudnak and Nuvak Noolook in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 29. photo courtesy of Veronica Tattuinee

Four members of the family brought home gold from the event, with Tony Dias, 44, and his two sons, Tristen, 21, and Tyrese, 18, playing together on the men’s champion team, HangNBang, and Tony’s daughter, Shanti, 15, playing on the women’s in her first LGM tournament.

Any father active in sports dreams of winning a championship while playing on the same team as his kids and Tony is no different.

“I have to say, it was all pretty neat,” said Tony.

“Tristen is a pretty experienced player because he played university ball for two years, but Tyrese and I held up our end too.”

With only a three-team division this year and all three squads evenly matched, Tony’s hopes for a family championship was, by no means, a sure thing.

The Rankin team ran into their arch nemesis, Iqaluit, in the final and after HangNBang took the first two sets, the Iqaluit players stormed back with two of their own.

The final set was a back-and-forth affair, with Rankin finally pulling away late to take the decider15-8.

Tony said he and teammate Kyle Johnston went down to injury and could only cheer the rest of the team on during the final set.

He said it was pretty neat to watch everyone come through, shake off the two set losses and take the last one to claim the championship.

“Tristen, drawing from his expertise from playing university ball, really stepped-it up during the final set,” Tony said.

“Unfortunately, the defending champions, Naujaat, couldn’t make it in due to bad weather … and you never like to see a team not get to defend its championship due to weather.

“It would have really been nice to see them here for the tournament.”

Dias said there used to always be six-to-eight teams in the LGM men’s division and he’s not sure why there’s been such a drop-off. He said some of it just might be the cost of travel and some teams waiting a little too late to fundraise.

“I talked to my boys quite a bit about playing on the same team to win a championship,” said Tony, “and, you know, it’s pretty neat to have four gold-medal winners in the house, as well as Tristen being named the tournament’s male MVP.”

“I’m lucky enough to be, for an older fella, still in half-decent shape and I can still play in competition with them in hockey, softball and volleyball.

“It would be great to do this in hockey, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.”

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