Just because the Don Stewart Recreation Centre is closed doesn’t mean sports clubs are off the hook.
Participants and their coaches have been finding ways to keep active, in shape, and with their heads in the game while the municipal workers’ strike rolls into its third week.
“We’ve always done some form of dry-land work — crunches, stretches — on the deck,” said Hay River Lions Swim Club head coach Kelvin Yee. “We’ve just had to move them elsewhere.”
The club works out together in the basement of the Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well at the gym at Diamond Jenness Secondary School on Saturday mornings. Yee said the goal is to keep the children active and in shape.
“We want to get their heart-rates up and find ways to work on their cardio,” he said, adding that swimming obviously requires specific facilities — mainly water — and that no other workout really works all the same muscles in the same way.
“It’s really hard to emulate that.”
Minor hockey players have similarly been spending time on gym floors instead of ice, having secured time at both Harry Camsell School and Princess Alexandra Middle School. About 20 children also made a trip to Fort Resolution last week to scrimmage with players there.
“They were really welcoming and the arena is really impressive,” said league president Pennie Pokiak. “They would have us back again with open arms… there’s definitely a lot of interest on our part in going back.”
Pokiak talked about how the lack of ice-time has affected all minor hockey players and said she could see the change even in her own family at times. It can be harder to get them outside to play without something structured like hockey.
“Obviously, there will be some parents who don’t want to drive an hour and half to Res but it’s a great opportunity for those who do want to go in the meantime,” she said, adding that having a influx of players is also good for the South Slave community because they don’t have enough of their own players at a given age to have a proper game.
Pokiak is also involved with the swim team with which her children compete and said that many parents there have been taking their children elsewhere to train in the pool.
“People have been heading to Fort Smith and Yellowknife, some are even going to Grand Prairie this weekend,” she said on Friday. “Some of those kids are looking to qualify for the Western Canada Summer Games and they can’t afford to stop now.”
Yee said despite the strife in the community, he strives to keep it out of the training sessions.
“It’s pulling this town apart, and we have kids with parents who support the strike and kids with parents who don’t — it’s a dynamic we’re all facing,” he said. “We’ve tried to keep the kids out of it, tried to keep them active and energetic and not involved.”
— Sarah Ladik