Nunavut Beach Volleyball Players Innovate

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Team Nunavut players (in red) Talia Grant, left, and Shawna Kyak scored a point against Prince Edward Island in beach volleyball Monday morning at the Canada Summer Games. (Photo by Denis Cahill, special for Nunatsiaq News)

First time for the territory competing in this sport at the Canada Summer Games; the wrestlers will see action on Tuesday

As a sport for two, beach volleyball requires real chemistry between the team partners.

They need to have an idea of ​​where their teammate is going to be and what they are going to do in all possible situations. Often it is a trust that is built over time.

Shawna Kyak and Talia Grant therefore had to do some cramming.

The duo, who represent Nunavut in women’s beach volleyball at the Canada Summer Games this week, have only played as partners since June 24.

“We tried” to work on that chemistry, Grant said with a laugh in an interview with Nunatsiaq News Monday morning.

“They’ve been roommates in the same hotel since June 24 (during training) so there’s always chemistry,” said Rob Tomyn, who coaches Jonah Oolayou’s assisted squad.

The Nunavut women’s beach volleyball team takes a break during action at the Canada Summer Games in Ontario’s Niagara region. (Photo by Denis Cahill, special for Nunatsiaq News)

“They have to eat together and sleep together in the same room and travel together, they haven’t spent much time apart since June 24.”

The duo made Summer Games history on Monday as the first team to represent Nunavut in beach volleyball.

Tomyn said he was “extremely pleased” with the effort, despite losing in straight sets to Prince Edward Island, 21-14, 21-9.

“We wanted to serve hard and be scrappy, and I thought the girls were doing that,” he said.

In their second game Monday afternoon against Yukon, the Nunavut women’s team won in straight sets by identical scores of 21-13 to improve their overall record to 1-1. The Summer Games are taking place in the Niagara region of Ontario from August 6-21.

The Nunavut men’s beach volleyball team of Ian McDonald and Aiden Anawak also lost their opener to Prince Edward Island, in straight sets 21-10, 21-7.

In their second game of the day Monday afternoon against Saskatchewan, the Nunavut men’s team lost 21-15 and 21-17, for a record so far of 0-2.

The fact that Nunavut would enter a beach volleyball team into the National Games – an unexpected development for many observers, since Nunavut does not have sandy beaches or even sand volleyball courts – drew national media attention.

The Toronto Star featured the teams over the weekend and Monday morning a local Niagara television station interviewed them.

Kyak admitted to having “a bit” of nervousness heading into the opener, saying “there will always be nerves when you do something you care about. And the first game is always the hardest.

The vast majority of his and Grant’s training time is spent playing indoors, at a school gym in their hometown of Iqaluit. Neither blamed their limited time spent training on the sand for Monday morning’s loss.

“We were very well prepared,” said Kyak, who will also represent Nunavut at the Summer Games next week on the women’s indoor volleyball team.

In September, she moves to Ottawa to study recreation and leisure services at Algonquin College. His cousin, Evan Kyak of Pond Inlet, is part of the Nunavut men’s indoor volleyball team which will also compete next week.

“Other teams may have spent years on the sand, but we’ve done so much work in the last month (training first in Halifax, NS, then Kelowna, B.C. ), I think we were prepared,” Grant added.

In September, she begins her fourth and final year of nursing studies at Nunavut Arctic College.

Both teams were prepared for the hot and humid weather in Ontario, but Monday saw rain with a cool breeze, with temperatures around 24°C.

For the men’s team, both Anawak and McDonald said they weren’t nervous heading into their opener.

“We play indoor volleyball a lot, so it’s really nothing new,” Anawak said. “The game is new, but it’s still the same state of mind, the same fundamentals.”

The PEI team used his height and size advantage, especially at net, to defeat the men of Nunavut.

Developing team chemistry came easy for McDonald and Anawak.

The two said they were best friends in Iqaluit and both go to the same program at Nunavut Arctic College, where they study environmental technology. Once they are done with the games, they are planning a seal hunt in Iqaluit.

On Tuesday, the women’s team is scheduled to face Newfoundland and Labrador, while the men’s will face the Yukon team. The playoff rounds begin Thursday.

Also on Tuesday, the Nunavut men’s and women’s wrestling teams will see their first action — the women will face Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, while the men will face British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec.

The wrestlers from Nunavut are Eekeeluak Avalak, Jusipi Dimitruk and Kiana Ekpakohak from Cambridge Bay, Davey Akat and Chasity St. John from Arviat, Isaiah Angutimmarik from Igloolik, Kaaju Arreak from Iqaluit and Jonah Kunilusie from Pangnirtung.

Results, along with live and on-demand video coverage, can be found on the games website niagara2022games.ca.

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