By Rick Garrick
TORONTO–Indigenous youth from across Ontario are looking forward to representing their communities at the upcoming North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) 2017 in Toronto.
“I’m proud to represent Ontario and my community,” says Thessalon’s Ty Showan, a member of the Aboriginal Team Ontario (ATO) U17 baseball team. “It feels good to be in such a big event.”
Showan looks forward to meeting the rest of his team at NAIG, which is being held from July 16-23 at about 16 venues across the Toronto area. The baseball games are scheduled for July 17-20 at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
“I only know two players on the team—the ones from Garden River,” says Showan, who usually plays shortstop, second base and first base. “There’s an orientation practice on Sunday [July 16], when we meet all our teammates.”
Showan began playing baseball about seven years ago in the Soo Black Sox Baseball system in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Last year I went to Arizona to represent Team Canada U13,” Showan says, noting that he hit cleanup for Team Canada. “We were good — we lost out in the semifinals in extra innings.”
Showan prepared for NAIG by training with his father, Todd Showan, in a variety of disciplines, including jogging, weight training, fielding grounders and hitting.
“I’m just happy and proud that he is carrying on the family tradition,” says Todd, who pitched in the All Ontario Native Fastball Championships for about 20 years. “It’s been a pretty big part of our whole family for a lot of years.”
Todd says his son is a solid infielder and a power hitter.
“Technically, he is very sound,” Todd says. “His fielding, in particular his glove and his movement to the ball, is really good for a kid his age.”
Michipicoten’s Angela Carter looks forward to seeing three of her children — Madison, Roderick and Arianna Wigwas — playing basketball at NAIG.
“I’m a very proud mother, I’m very excited, we’re very enthusiastic,” Carter says. “Sometimes the words can’t describe it, but to have three of my kids being able to be representatives for [Aboriginal Team] Ontario is quite exciting.”
Carter’s older daughter Madison previously participated with the ATO volleyball team at NAIG 2014 in Regina, Saskatoon.
“It was great, it’s very empowering,” Carter says. “The opportunity that this has brought for my children is
Roderick says he got interested in playing for ATO after hearing about Madison’s experiences at NAIG 2014.
“She always told me stories about that,” says Roderick, who will be playing with the ATO U16 basketball team. “She said it was a very good experience.”
Roderick credits the Thunder Bay Blaze Basketball program that he joined in Grade eight for the development of his basketball skills.
“Now I play for the Blaze team out of school and I play in-school basketball as well [at Hammarskjold High School],” Roderick says, adding that the Blaze select teams usually attend tournaments in Minneapolis. “There was no Blaze travel team for my age group, so I had to move up and I played for the Grade 12 team and the Grade 11 team. I find it really fun and competitive to compete down in [Minneapolis].”
Roderick usually plays point guard or shooting guard on his teams.
“I like to score,” Roderick says. “I scored 20 points a game in the regular season.”
The basketball games are scheduled for July 17-21 at Humber College-North Campus and Tait McKenzie Centre@York University/HoopDome. More than 5,000 athletes are expected to compete at NAIG 2017.