Yellowknife’s Norm Sanderson has been synonymous with darts in the NWT for nearly three decades as both a player and volunteer.
His work over that time has finally been recognized at the highest level of the sport in Canada.
The ever-present member of Team NWT’s men’s squad was presented with life membership by the National Darts Federation of Canada (NDFC) during the awards banquet at the Adult National Darts Championships in Toronto on June 17. Lifetime membership is given to players who have had outstanding achievement, either as a player and/or administrator provincially, nationally or internationally, along with being a member in good standing with the NDFC for 15 consecutive years or more.
He joins Dean Willis, who was the first NWT resident to receive life membership in 2014.
Sanderson said he had no idea beforehand that he was even being considered for the honour.
“Before they announced my name, I couldn’t figure out who they were talking about,” he said. “Then they said it was me and it was an emotional moment, for sure.”
He said he figures Willis, Elvis Beaudoin and Keith Way were responsible for getting him the honour.
“They would ask me about certain tournaments, things I did back home, and I didn’t clue in that they were probably putting something together (for an awards nomination),” he said.
Sanderson said he first took up the sport in 1993 and he couldn’t hit the board at all.
But enough practice seemed to improve things over the years.
“I was working a four-week-in, four-week-out shift at the time,” he said. “When I was at home, I would practice 10 hours a day and I got better at it.”
So much so that he would win his first territorial title in 1996 in Inuvik.
“I played a lot of good players and I was lucky to win games off of them,” said Sanderson.
From there, he has played in several territorial and national championships, even hitting the road to compete in nationally-ranked tournaments from time to time, including the Snoflake Open and Klondike Open in Alberta on multiple occasions.
“I guess I did a lot of good things over the years,” said Sanderson. “Dean and I would always help out whenever we travelled to tournaments and I just wanted to help out the darts community in Canada.”
Sanderson was part of this year’s team in Toronto, the first adult national championships since 2019. None of the NWT players were able to advance to the knockout stages in the singles, doubles or mixed doubles, but there were close calls on several occasions.
“Lots of our players were one game away from advancing,” he said. “A lot of the matches went to a third leg (best-of-three leg matches) but they just couldn’t win that last leg. If they did, it could have been a lot different, but everyone had a great time and we all had a lot of fun. It was great to get back out on the road and play again but I was feeling it in my legs and back after it was done.”