The North American Indigenous Games is set to kick off in about seven months. For many Native athletes, this is one of the highlights of their career as some of them may be competing on an International stage for the first time. For others, this may be a springboard to inspire them to greater things.

Why is this significant for me? Well, for the first time and probably the only time, I was selected as the Head Coach for our contingent, Eastern Door and the North. It was a surprise to be sure as well as an honour as the selection for any major games is an honour. I’ll also have the responsibility of mentoring two young and upcoming aboriginal coaches. As a coach, I had athletes compete against them so it’s nice to see them take the next step as they transition to high-performance coaches.

Angel Robertson and Jordyn Goodleaf will make up part of the coaching staff while Coach Peter Montour moves into the Mission Staff for this summer’s NAIG

So what are my expectations for the games? I don’t know. As is said before, this is my first time going to this competition and the first time working with some of these athletes. With that being said, I’m pretty excited as any challenge that comes around is one to be met head-on. Another expectation that I have is the prospect of meeting new people and learning new things. That too is always exciting as wrestling has afforded me many opportunities to do just that throughout the years.

This summer, I’ll be working with athletes and coaches from the Mohawk Wrestling Club

The games will be held in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth, Millbrook First Nation, an area that I’m familiar with, but haven’t been too in a while. Truth be told, it’s a good place to host it since being in Canada, we know what to expect. However, it would have been nice had it been hosted in a place I’ve never been to, such as New Mexico. After all, one of the bonuses from coaching at these international events is the prospect of visiting places that I’ve never been too.

So with preparation comes planning. Finding the athletes can be a bit of a challenge given the fact that due to the younger age groups, some of them may not have been wrestling for that long. Couple this with coming out of the pandemic, and it can be a challenge to find athletes to fill our spots. Therefore, rather than a traditional tryout or wrestle-off, there will be probably a training/selection camp in order to see what our options are. It’s getting to the point where a wrestle-off wouldn’t be necessary simply because it doesn’t seem like we’ll have multiple athletes at the same weight. However, it seems that we’ll be able to cover quite bit of the weight classes so there’s a positive in that.

So with all that, suffice it to say that my excitement for the games is becoming more palatable as the games approach. It’s becoming more of reality every day beginning with all the meetings and preparations that are coming hard and fast. As the months go by, my excitement is probably going to go even higher and by the end, I think I should be adequately ready. Only time will tell if my first and only foray into the NAIG will be a success, but give that I have a great staff and support group, I have no doubt that it will be.