They’re used to playing for their city, or the logo on their jersey. This week, though, they’re representing all of Vancouver Island.
Fifty-six youths from Nanaimo, Gabriola Island, Lantzville and Nanoose Bay will be participating in the B.C. Summer Games Thursday through Sunday (July 21-24).
The event is totally different than a big game or a tournament or a meet. For most of the teens, it will be their first time competing at a multi-sport event with large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.
“It’ll be a really good opportunity. I think I’ll remember this forever,” said Kaitlyn Watson, triple jumper. “To see all the different athletes and the opening ceremonies just makes it that much more intense and memorable.”
Athletes can only qualify for the games during a certain age window, so the 56 locals have seized an opportunity.
“I’ve been focusing on trying to make the summer games for years now,” Watson said. “I’m very happy I made the team.”
Ben Toth, a sprinter, has heard about the scale of the competition and is excited to be a part of this year’s games.
“For me, that’s huge,” he said. “I’ve heard from a lot of the older athletes how memorable it is … The adrenaline is going to be huge on the start line.”
Piper Doerkson, a softball player, said participating in the games is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“It feels really great, and to be the only [softball player] from Nanaimo, it’s really a privilege,” she said.
She’s fortunate to be able to extend her season this way, she said, and has been motivated to push herself to her limits with training.
Doerkson likes the Island team’s chances.
“I honestly think we’ll do really well,” she said, pointing out that the 80 girls who tried out showed a lot of skill. “So I think coming together with the best, we’ll be a good competitor.”
The athletes are excited just to go, but once they get there, they might as well try to medal. Toth said it’s motivating to be competing for Vancouver Island.
“For a lot of the events, it’s only a couple kids going [from the zone],” he said. “So it’s a lot of weight all on you to do really well.”
Athletes participating in the summer games include:
Baseball – Brodie Comerford, Mackinnon Homeniuk, Max Kolopenuk, Aaron Marsh, Ben Munger, Colby Neff.
Basketball – Sessaly Buck.
Beach volleyball – Joey Chi, Zoe Dendes, Mccalli Franklin, Owen Frey, Maddie McDonald, Nathan Ziemanski.
Canoe/kayak – Jackson Ali, Thomas Duff, Jackson Fraser, Graham Hein, Rielle Hein, Jacob Horwood, Alena Stenning-Lint.
Equestrian – Adriana Coronica, Michelle Hawthornthwaite, Mairi Rathy.
Field lacrosse – Parker Davie.
Golf – Kassie Muanyam.
Lacrosse – Will Cookman.
Rowing – Cohen Inglis, Benett Layton, Meg Montgomery.
Rugby – Amelia Emerson.
Soccer – Ole McKay, Jacob Reynard, Jada Nykwist, Briana Smith, Jazmine Wilkinson, Nicole Wilson.
Softball – Piper Doerkson.
Swimming – Claire Boudrot, Roman Fedyukov.
Synchronized swimming – McKenzie Laing, Kaia Fuchs.
Track and field – Karly Dickenson, Keaton Heisterman, Ethan Katzberg, Makayla Mitchell, Kaitlyn Watson, Katherine Morrison, Shane Stewart, Ben Toth.
Volleyball – Jared Chwelos, Ben Harder, Nnya Mbaoma, Kassandra Richardson, Jayden Saywell, Kaitlyn Vanderkooi.
Wrestling – Steven Guo, Ian Tuck.