Joy Drop: Nunavut wrestler shows the power of communities that invest in athletes

As the last few weeks of summer go by, joys are abundant. The sounds of laughter on patios, the roaring of oceans, or the stillness of a quiet summer evening is truly something we have been lucky to experience. I hope that blooming herbs, bright flowers, and lots of ice cream are punctuating your beautiful summer.

With August comes the promise of fall, the beginnings of league play but also the end of one of the hottest leagues running: the WNBA.

The playoffs have begun! This is the last season for legends Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles so there is a lot of reflection on their contributions to the game.

The finals erupted on Wednesday night in a phenomenal manner with some action between the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky that I still can’t get out of my brain. A pass from Marine Johannes to Natasha Howard blew my mind.

I was happy to find a 1,400-word piece by basketball writer, Gabe Ibrahim, on that pass alone. Reading an entire piece dedicated to a single pass and its context, while analyzing the play, made me very happy. I love seeing this excitement about women’s basketball in a league that absolutely deserves the respect. I am still flabbergasted that investors are just throwing their money at the league. Particularly when viewership is on the rise.

Another exceptionally beautiful moment this week was the return home of Nunavut’s first Canada Summer Games gold medallist: Eekeeluak Avalak. He arrived home at the Cambridge Bay airport to the excitement of his community rallying for him, waving flags, and a parade of vehicles that drive through the hamlet!

The territory’s first gold medallist is so proud of what he has done to elevate the sport of wrestling and carve out a place among champions for athletes from Nunavut. Competitions and standings such as this matter to communities that invest emotionally, financially and socially in their athletes.

WATCH | Wrestler given hero’s welcome:

Wrestler given hero’s welcome after capturing 1st medal for Nunavut at Canada Summer Games

2 days ago

Duration 2:34

Wrestler Eekeeluak Avalak captured gold at the Canada Summer Games last week, the first medal for his home territory of Nunavut. In an emotional victory speech, he dedicated the win to his late brother, who he says supported him.

After he won the event, Avalak (affectionately known as “Eekee”) was emotional in an interview at the Games. Yes, I bawled. He recognized his community but also those who are not there to celebrate him but are watching from above. A phenomenally talented young man showing such raw and powerful emotion certainly has my waterworks going off. 

In honour of Eekee, I am sharing some incredible music by the brilliant Inuk throat singer, visual artist, and creative genius  Tanya Tagaq. She released her latest album North Star Remixes last month and it’s phenomenal. Enjoy!

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