NL Summer Games: Labrador team overcomes challenges in a quest for gold

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on August 16, 2016

Coach Wayne Decker brings Team Labrador together for a timeout during a round-robin game against Central in NL Summer Games ball hockey action Monday at the Conception Bay South Stadium. Labrador won 3-2 and will face St. John’s/North for the gold medal Tuesday.

©Cory Hurley

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. - The obstacles teams from Labrador had to overcome just to get to the 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games in Conception Bay South says a lot about the character of those involved.

The challenges provided by geography — both in terms of selection of a roster and in getting to the event itself — are the most prominent. “The Big Land” has a wide region from which to recruit athletes, but once the team is put together, it has to travel a long distance to the island for the competition, adding considerable expense to the equation.

 

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We had to put the work in just to get here. Wayne Decker

Wayne Decker, head coach for Labrador’s ball hockey team at Games this week, started recruiting just a few months ago. After a tryout, he put together a roster that includes five players from Labrador City, five from Sheshatshiu, two from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and one each from Nain, Makkovik, and Wabush.

Decker was certain his team would show heart — “We had to put the work in just to get here,” he said. — but without any previous competition or any real practice time together, he wasn’t absolutely sure of what to expect in terms of results this week.

They delivered those, too. After posting three wins and a tie in the preliminary round, Labrador plays for the gold medal against St. John’s/North today.

Monday at the C.B.S. Stadium and facing an undefeated Central squad in the final game of the round robin, Labrador held on for a 3-2 victory. A key point was when the northerners killed off a five-on-three Central power play in the second half.

“As you can see this evening, we are pretty proud of who we are,” Decker said. “We faced a lot of adversity in this game, and we prevailed once again.”

After the win over Central, Shipu Andrew of Sheshatshiu said he is proud of the way Labrador is playing. However, he couldn’t muster up much else to say between winded breaths.

“It feels great,” he said. “This is my first NL Games, and … I am tired. It was pretty tough.”

Andrew and his teammates are guaranteed to return to Labrador with a medal, and Decker says they want it to be gold.

One more challenge to overcome.

 

cory.hurley@tc.tc

Twitter: @TC_CoryHurley