WCSG athletes get pep rally send-off
The first wave of athletes competing in the Western Canada Summer Games headed off to Swift Current, Sask., Thursday.
The first wave of athletes competing in the Western Canada Summer Games headed off to Swift Current, Sask., Thursday. On Wednesday, all 134 participating athletes, across 11 sports, were treated to a pep rally send-off at Rotary Peace Park.
It was a festive atmosphere as the athletes mingled around the pavilion at Rotary, all adorned in their fresh WCSG jackets, which are black with a stylish red and white trim. A “Y” sits on the left chest.
Minister of Community Services, John Streicker, was in attendance to give the Yukon athletes some encouraging words before they travelled.
“For those of you who are first-timers (heading to a Games) you are going to figure out it is quite a big deal to go to a
set of multi-sport games,” said Streicker. “You are wearing your territory’s colours, you are representing, you’re competing against athletes who are some of the best in the country.
“It is definitely going to be an experience.”
He continued to speak to the importance of competing for personal goals and self-achievement.
“Most people go and think the competition is against whoever, B.C., Saskatchewan, N.W.T.,” Streicker told the athletes. “But really the competition is for you. It’s this notion that you’ve worked hard and that you are there to strive for yourself and achieve as much as you can.
“I’m very excited for you, I wish I could go, I don’t get to go this time. I lose my voice every time I go because I would cheer so loud for you.”
Next up to the podium was Jeanie Lassen, a former Canadian Olympic weight-lifter and past participant in the Western Canada Summer Games. She shared some of her own experiences with the athletes.
She spoke about the stresses that come with competing at a multi-sport event.
“Don’t worry about being lapped or finishing last,” said Lassen. “All athletes find themselves wishing they could fast-forward just a few minutes, hours or days and be away from these feelings.
“Embrace those uncomfortable moments and remember you are going to have friends which you haven’t yet met which will be your friends for life.”
The opening ceremonies of the Games will be held today at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex. Leading the Yukon into the arena as flag-bearer will be dual-sport athlete Cassi Jensen, who will be competing in both basketball and wrestling.
“I didn’t know until about five minutes before the presentation,” said Jensen. “It means a lot. It’s awesome. I feel very special to be honoured with that. It feels really cool.”
Jensen said it means a lot to be representing the Yukon in Swift Current.
“I’m very excited to do it,” she said.
Having to prepare for two sports leading into the Games, Jensen said she is feeling ready for the competitions ahead.
“With basketball, we were practicing at least every day and if not we were taking shots outside of practice and making at least 500 every day,” said Jensen.
“With wrestling, I just came back from a camp at SFU. (I) was training with their high-performance team. It was intense and I learned a lot but I am ready for both sports.”
It will be Jensen’s first time at a multi-sport event while competing in a team sport.
“I think our team has gotten to know each other lots and we know how each other like to play,” said Jensen. “I think we are ready to give it our all and I think we will do pretty well.”
Lowell DeCook will be competing in soccer and will be participating in his first Games. He said he is excited to pull on his jersey and represent the Yukon.
“It means everything to me because I have lived here my whole life,” said DeCook.
The boys’ soccer team has been travelling for exhibition games in the weeks before the Games and DeCook thinks the team is prepared for their upcoming matches and expects the competition to be fierce.
Volleyball player, Carla Dumadag, is ready to experience a Games for herself.
“I’m excited to see a Games and see what everybody is talking about,” said Dumadag. “I always see them on everyone’s feed but I never actually got to experience one. Now that I am, I’m excited but definitely nervous.”
Dumadag believes the Yukon will be the most spirited team.
“We seem like a small territory compared to other provinces, but in terms of team spirits, we show that a lot,” said Dumadag. “You see it at school events too.
“I’m definitely going to try and watch other games. Even though I love volleyball it’s not the only sport in the world or at the Games. Even if I don’t know the other people from the Yukon I’m definitely going to still cheer for them because it is still where I’m from. It’s my home.”
The Western Canada Summer Games were established in 1975 and are held every four years. This year, 1,700 athletes, coaches, officials and mission staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are set to participate.