It’s becoming obvious everyone missed school sports not being around over the better part of the last two years.
That was very apparent with the crowd of people at Senior Spike It! last weekend, the first such tournament since 2019.
The senior edition of the NWT’s scholastic volleyball championships wrapped up on Oct. 30 with eight banners up for grabs. When all was settled, St. Patrick High School emerged with four of those titles — U15 boys Tier 2, U19 girls Tier 1 and Tier 2 and U19 boys Tier 2. Meanwhile, Sir John Franklin High School snagged three of their own: U15 girls Tier 1 and Tier 2 and U19 boys Tier 1.
Like in past years, each age category had two banners up for grabs to allow more teams to play for a title.
Mark Kilbride helped organize the event on the Sir John Franklin end with Dylan Eastcott and Bridget McLeod.
Kilbride said this year’s tournament had a much different feel to it than past years.
“The community teams haven’t been here for the last couple of years and you could tell they loved being back,” he said. “Lots of people signed up to play this year at our school and from St. Pat’s, too.”
In total, 42 teams were on court at some point during the tournament. In addition to the Yellowknife contingent of Sir John Franklin, St. Pat’s and Ecole Allain St. Cyr, there were entries from Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Fort Good Hope.
And if you’re wondering about that eighth banner not yet mentioned? That went down the highway to Paul W. Kaeser High School (PWK) in Fort Smith as their U15 boys outfit copped the Tier 1 title.
“I love seeing the community teams win something,” said Kilbride. “(PWK) beat us in the final and it was an exciting final.”
For St. Pat’s, Rob Hart and Tobi Taylor-Dusome were looking after affairs there.
Hart said he had no idea what sort of skill level would be on display with no volleyball being played in a long time, but everything looked great.
“I was really happy to see the skill level of those in town and from out of town,” he said.
St. Pat’s had a large contingent with 15 teams in total across all eight divisions. Hart figures around 25 per cent of the school’s population was involved in some fashion.
“We had so many of our kids playing, we had volunteers doing scoring, and a bunch of our students were going around taking photos,” he said. “Winning the banners is always great, but I’m more impressed with our participation. The kids are choosing a healthy lifestyle and I’m proud of how we played and how we behaved. I don’t think there was one issue with people in the stands.”
That volunteer spirit was also on display on the organizational side, added Kilbride.
“I think we saw more people helping out now that it’s post-Covid,” he said. “Teachers want to connect with the students and a lot of our teachers were helping coach or getting involved. It wasn’t just one person for one task, it was a group effort.”
There was one hiccup prior to the tournament beginning as some issues with the flooring arose at Weledeh gymnasium the day everything was set to kick off. Because of that, the four courts that were to be used in that area were whittled down to three.
Hart said that meant a complete rejigging of the schedule, but Eastcott made it work.
“Here I am thinking the coaches are going to be mad because they’ve got their schedules and plans based around what they’ve already been given,” he said. “Dylan handled it like a complete professional and the coaches were really great. They all understood and were wonderful.”
“Both (Sir John Franklin and St. Pat’s) did a real good job of working together,” added Kilbride.