Thursday, August 8, 2013

Let the Finals Begin!

It's day 7 of the Canada Summer Games and time is flying by!  Today is the last day of formal competition for both Basketball and Swimming.  I say formal because everyone who has even been to a Canada Games in any capacity knows that the real competition heats up off the court, field and out of the pool.  The top sport here at the games is pin trading and clothing swapping! Each province gets a set of pins to wheel and deal with other athletes and it's always a mission to get the rare pins from the smaller provinces and territories or to collect each piece of any puzzle pins that teams have.  A puzzle pin is a series of 2-6 pins that all fit together to create a bigger picture or animal.  The top pins this year are the 5 piece narwhal pin from Nunavut and the bobble head pins from the Yukon and Manitoba. I remember trading pins back in Regina in 2005.  It's such a great and easy way for the athletes to break the ice and meet people from other teams and in other sports.  I haven't been collecting this year, I've mostly just been giving out my pins to the little kids who have been volunteering to take out the garbage or who helped carry luggage to dorm rooms the first night.  I did however acquire the elusive narwhal.  I've heard rumours that I might be able to trade the full set for clothing - are trading t-shirts and hats and shirts for trading is that intense.

Newspaper Articles about our boys!
Although our Basketball team hasn't won any games, I have been so impressed with them!  They are genuinely excited to be here and to play against such high quality teams, regardless of the final score.  They are having fun and really demonstrating the whole point of the games - to enjoy sport, to meet athletes from across the country and to have fun doing it.  It hasn't gone unnoticed either - our athletes have been featured in the Canada Games newspaper almost every day!  We've also had volunteers and coaching staff from other teams approach us to say the same.  Ontario is the Basketball powerhouse this year, and before we played them, the coach approached our team and asked for a team picture with both teams since the Ontario boys were excited to play against NWT since it's not somewhere they've ever been.  They were nice and didn't completely demolish us like they could have - very sportsman like!

Canada Games has developed this incredible app!  It only works on iphones but every time I use it, which is hourly, I am more and more impressed with it!  It lists all the venues with a link to google maps which provides GPS directions, it gives you a list of places to eat and things to do in Sherbrooke which are also linked to GPS directions, it has the full schedule of events with the scores in real time as they happen, provides a list of all the athletes by sport and team and has links to the JCG2013 twitter and instagram accounts to instantly stay up to date on all social media related to the games.  I'm so impressed!  As Mission Staff it's been a lifesaver while trying to find venues and decide what events to go to when.  We've used it to find some awesome restaurants too!  I think I'd still be driving around aimlessly looking for a baseball diamond if I didn't have it!

The app also lead us to some great little restaurants that we likely wouldn't have found on our own.  Notably was a mexican place that made a mean margarita and guacamole and had a great little patio.  We also went to a steak house for team supper that had Duck Wings on the menu.  We ordered some for the table and they were awesome.  I had never had duck before but I'd definitely order it again.

During the two weeks, the provinces and territories take turns hosting Mission Night's where all the mission staff from each time get together for a night out.  There are 4 nights in total, 2 each week.  On Tuesday night we went to this pub called "La Cachette" that had about 4 ball hockey courts with hardcore rubber floors, score boards and lights at each rink.  The hosting teams organized a big Dodgeball Tournament which was really fun.  We were paired up with team Alberta which was awesome because they were hardcore full of team spirit and made it really fun.  We may not have won but we definitely had the best cheering section and team.
We've got spirit, yes we do!

Finals we're checking out today include Men's and Women's volleyball and Women's Soccer as well as swimming.  Turns out my good pal Alexander who was my co-captain when I swam for UPEI is here coaching the New Brunswick swim team.  I'm so excited to meet up with him tonight or tomorrow.  It's literally been years since I've seen him.  I love how sport brings and keeps people connected! I've been reminded of all the good times we had swimming for UPEI - the house crawls, the banquets, the swim meets, the bus trips to other schools...all the good stuff.  I couldn't tell you what my personal best time was for 200m free or 50m breast stroke but I can tell you countless stories about the trips we took as a team and the nights we partied together.  All the good stuff! It's exciting to think that the athletes here at the Games are getting to do the very same as I type.
A little blast from the past!

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