Ditidaht teen to represent BC at North American Indigenous Games | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Ditidaht teen to represent BC at North American Indigenous Games

Port Alberni, BC

Since British Columbia is so vast, officials with the badminton squad that will represent the province at this year’s North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) were unable to stage any in-person tryouts.

Instead, those interested in being named to the club were simply asked to submit an online application detailing their accomplishments in the sport.

Kate Edgar, a 15-year-old Ditidaht First Nation member, did just that.

“I actually had no idea what would happen,” said Edgar, a Grade 10 student at Alberni District Secondary School.

As it turned out, Edgar’s parents (mother Kelly and father Terry) were notified that their daughter had been selected to the provincial squad that will participate at the NAIG a couple of days before Mother’s Day in early May.

But they managed to keep it a secret for a bit.

“We were having dinner and suddenly on Mother’s Day my mom announced they had a bit of good news to share,” Edgar said. “That’s when she told me I had made the team.”

About 5,000 athletes are expected to participate at this year’s NAIG, which will be held July 15-23 in Nova Scotia.

A total of 16 sports will be contested at the games. The majority of the events will be held in Halifax. Dartmouth and Millbrook First Nation will also serve as competition venues.

For Edgar, who has been a member of the Port Alberni Junior Badminton Club for the past five years, the NAIG will signify the biggest event she has competed in.

Larry Spencer, the head coach of the local club, said he is not familiar with any of the other badminton athletes who will compete at the NAIG.

“I have no idea how she’ll do,” Spencer said. “But I think she performs well under pressure. She also listens well and picks up coaching tips all the time.”

Edgar is also uncertain about the quality of opponents she’ll face at the NAIG.

“For me it’s about the experience and playing against players from the other provinces,” she said.

And what if she does indeed fare well and end up bringing home some hardware from Nova Scotia?

“That would be icing on the cake,” Edgar said.

Edgar believes she will participate in the girls’ singles and doubles competitions at the NAIG. She might also take part in the mixed doubles category.

At this point she is uncertain of anybody who will be her doubles partner.

“I do enjoy playing singles,” she said. “But if I do play doubles I think I’ll definitely enjoy it as well.”

There will be Under-16 and Under-19 divisions at the games. Edgar might end up competing in both categories.

Taking part in a North American competition is not too shabby for Edgar, who has primarily represented her local club in some fun tournaments.

“It kind of just started as a sport to do on my own time after school,” she said of her introduction to the sport. “It was like a safe haven almost.”

Edgar was also a member of her school’s badminton squad this year.

She competed in the girls’ doubles event at the North Island championships, which were staged in Duncan in April.

Edgar and her partner won four of the five matches they played at that event.

Christopher Sowden, who lives in Williams Lake, will serve as the head coach for the B.C. badminton squad.

Sowden explained how team participants, including Edgar, were named to the NAIG-bound club.

“She was selected after reviewing the information provided by all candidates and making my selections based on that info and who I thought would make for a good team player,” Sowden said.

Sowden said he is waiting for confirmation from NAIG organizers whether Edgar would be allowed to compete in Under-16 and Under-19 draws.

Provincial and territorial squads from Canada take part in the NAIG. American athletes represent their state or regional clubs.

A total of 13 Canadian teams and nine American ones are expected to include badminton participants.

This will mark the 10th time the NAIG has been held. The first Games were held in Edmonton in 1990. The last Games took place in Toronto in 2017.

Nova Scotia was originally scheduled to host the upcoming games in 2020, but they were postponed a couple of times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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