First year together, first trip to Nationals for First Nations female v’ball team
- EFN Staff | June 05, 2018
The East Central volleyball team consists of 10 passionate U15 female players from Standing Buffalo, Carry the Kettle, Kawacatoose, Kahkewistahaw and Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation – a team that made their way to the nationals in Edmonton.
“It’s going to be fun because we’re one of the top teams ranked in Canada,” said head coach Faron Mckay. “I’m totally amazed because you’d never think a team would do so well in their first year.”
Making it to the nationals was a huge eye-opener for many communities to see the skills of these 10 volleyball players have. But it didn’t happen overnight.
The East Central girls’ volleyball team got their first shot playing the sport back in January. They have competed in nine tournaments since. They placed third in their first Sask. Cup and have also placed second in their second and third Sask. cup. In the big Cougar Invitational Tournament in Regina, they placed 2nd as well. The East Central team recently played in the provincials in Saskatoon placing second out of 40 teams in Saskatchewan.
“We did really well and as one of the top teams in Saskatchewan, I believe we have a lot of talent,” said Mckay. “We pretty much started from scratch. It was amazing how we put together a team, it was more like a jigsaw puzzle where we fit the pieces together and it turned out awesome.”
One of the team’s captions Tavah Delorme, 14, from Carry the Kettle but resides in Regina, travels weekly to Standing Buffalo for volleyball practices at the school gymnasium. She has been playing volleyball for four years now and grew up playing with her parents who ignited her passion for the sport.
“I look up to my mom and dad because they influenced me to play,” said Delorme.
With the nationals coming up, Delorme hopes to make the experience memorable.
“I’m excited to go to Edmonton to compete [in the nationals],” she said. “It’s fun and nerve-racking at first but once you play together as a team, it’s good.”
Mckay sets up practice for the girls 2-3 times a week in Standing Buffalo. He, the assistant coaches and the parents are fortunate to have this recreational activity for their girls that gives them something to do.
“[We] put structure into our youth’s sports where we give them a chance in that support system,” he said. “At the same time, to show them what the are capable of doing and where they can take their sports level to a new high where they can play university or college [volleyball]. With this club, I wanted to show that we have First Nations athletes that can do really well.”
When travelling to some tournaments, the parents and coaches chip in money from their own pockets to ensure the girls’ can play. It’s not only about competing that drives them to these levels but it’s the passion that players of the East Central team show for the love of the game.
“In our club, we didn’t want to make it all about finances. We wanted to make it affordable for everybody to play,” said Mckay. “We just wanted to show that we as First Nations do have a good team and if they give us a chance, we could do really well and we have.”
Once they finish playing at the nationals, the girls will venture off into soccer, fastball and beach volleyball until they are back in full throttle for next season.