It’s almost time for the Yukon to knock heads with the best in the west.
Early this week, Sport Yukon released Team Yukon’s roster for the Western Canada Summer Games taking place August 5 through 14 in Kamloops, BC.
Ready to represent the territory are 102 athletes, 28 coaches and team managers, and 10 mission staff.
However, while a healthy number of Yukoners are making the trip, some sports didn’t make the cut for Team Yukon in these Games.
Granted, there are numerous sports the Yukon regularly doesn’t compete in, such as softball, beach volleyball, rugby and wrestling, among others. But some sports the Yukon competed in for previous major Games have fallen by the wayside.
While the Yukon is sending both male and female soccer and volleyball teams, there will only be a male basketball team representing the territory in Kamloops.
“We couldn’t get enough girls to keep coming out and playing,” said Jeff Cressman, president of Basketball Yukon. “There is supposed to be a roster of 12 and about six showed up religiously. So there wasn’t enough to keep the team going.”
The Yukon sent a female basketball team to both the 2009 Canada Summer Games in PEI and the 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
“At that age (15-and-under) there’s a bunch of them playing soccer, volleyball and basketball, and some of them got onto the soccer and volleyball teams,” said Cressman.
The Yukon also won’t have any representation on the golf course in Kamloops, though three players went to the Canada Summer Games in 2009.
Like female basketball, there are just not enough young golfers to send the necessary four players to make up a team. But unlike female basketball, golfers are being lost to a winter sport, with hockey camps conflicting with the Western Games.
“We started a good junior program two years ago and we haven’t had the time to grow the number of kids we need,” said Gord Zealand, president of the Yukon Golf Association. “Kids are usually into more than one sport and the other sport we ran into conflict with is hockey.”
The three golfers who played for the Yukon at the Summer Games in PEI now exceed the age requirement of the Western Games.
Another gap in the roster is in gymnastics. The Yukon sent gymnasts to both the 2010 Arctic Games and the 2011 Canada Winter Games, but no team is heading to Kamloops.
A representative of Polarettes Gymnastics Club could not be located by press time.
There is still plenty of talent heading down from the Yukon.
Whitehorse long-distance runner Logan Roots is once again representing the Yukon, having competed for the territory in the 2009 Summer Games. While attending Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island this past year, Roots placed first in five, and second in two, races in the Island Series races, earning him a top ranking in the 16-19 age division.
Watson Lake’s champion badminton siblings will be on Team Yukon. Jason Carlson and Vanessa Carlson, who have won numerous Yukon Championships, both won medals for the Yukon, including golds, at the last two Arctic Winter Games.
Also on board is Kieran Halliday, representing the Yukon in tennis the first half and in soccer the second half of the Games. At the Summer Games in PEI, Halliday produced the Yukon’s first victory of the Games playing tennis.
The Yukon will have lots of strength in the pool as well. Whitehorse Glacier Bear Haley Braga will be one to watch. Braga has won medals at international meets, has set four Glacier Bear records just this season, and is the only Yukoner competing at the Canadian Age Group Nationals this weekend in Montreal.
It is also the final meet for Yukon head swim coach Marek Poplawski, who is stepping down as head coach of the Whitehorse Glacier Bears. Since assuming the role in September of 2004, Poplawski has coached swimmers to 884 club records, oversaw the Yukon’s first ever medals in swimming at the Canada Summer Games in 2009, and has helped two of the club’s top swimmers, Alexander Gabor and Bronwyn Pasloski, to full scholarships at NCAA schools, to name just a few accomplishments.
Taking over for Poplawski is Paralympian Stephanie Dixon. The 27-year-old, who was born with one leg, has competed at three Paralympic Games for swimming, winning a total of 19 medals, including seven gold and 10 silver. Dixon, who holds four world records, was the first Canadian to win five medals at one Games and is only behind one other athlete for total medals.
Team Yukon will be holding a pep rally on Friday at the Convention Centre, doors open at 6:30 p.m. It starts at 7 p.m. Yukon’s flag-bearer for the Games’ opening ceremony will be announced at the rally.
Final Team Yukon roster
Coach – Don White
Assistant coach – Rodney Hulstein
Coach – Randy Carlson
Manager – Janice Carlson
Emile St. Pierre
Coach – Tyler Bradford
Assistant coach – Mike Reynolds
Manager – Jeff Cressman
Coach – Anthony Delorenzo
Manager – Trena Irving
Staff – Bruce Thomson
Coach – John MacPhail
Assistant coach – Charly Kelly
Manager – Lauren Crooks
Coach – Jake hanson
Assistant coach – Arnold Hedstrom
Manager – Charlene Torgerson
Coach – Marek Poplawski
Assistant coach – Kathryn Zrum
Assistant coach – Stephanie Dixon
Manager – Jim Thompson
Coach – Jan Polivka
Manager – Stacy Lewis
Coach – Natasha Bilodeau
Assistant coach – Terri Park
Manager – Kasia Leary
Coach – Russ Tait
Assistant coach – Shaun McLoughlin
Manager – Janna Tait