Nova Scotia Keltics come out on top with gold medal win
WINDSOR, N.S. – The Nova Scotia Keltics ran into each other’s arms, laughing and smiling, as the final whistle blew of the gold medal game – They are warriors. They are champions.
While best known as a runner, Wolfville’s Vance Kruszewski is coaching girls soccer at the North American Indigenous Games near Toronto this coming week.
WOLFVILLE, NS – Soccer coach Vance Kruszewski has five Valley players on the Nova Scotia girls soccer team heading to the North American Indigenous Games July 16.
In Toronto, they will represent Atlantic Canada as the first soccer team to take part in the games.
The Wolfville chiropractor, who keeps a satellite office in Millbrook First Nations Health Centre near Truro, has been preparing for the games for about a year.
Last July he began to identify likely male and female soccer players, coming up with a preliminary roster last fall. Then the head coach scheduled twice monthly practises all winter in New Glasgow.
“It was a central location,” Kruszewski said, “and it worked out well.”
By May he had drawn up his final roster. Five Horton High School students made the draw. They include: Kruszewski’s daughter, Lauren, Skylar Maquire, Jessica Sylliboy, Aliya Lickers and Emma Olszowiec.
“The Valley is well represented,” said Kruszewski.
The girls team has been playing club teams in exhibition games for roughly two months. Now the team is used to playing together and showing great commitment, he says.
“We’re definitely honoured,” Kruszewski said, “and honoured to be the inaugural team from Atlantic Canada.”
Many of his team did not have much access to soccer outside school and had to overcome obstacles in order to participate.
“They’ve come along way,” Kruszewski noted. “They’re ready now and they have a great attitude.”
Team Nova Scotia is sending more than 250 athletes to the games. More than 5,000 athletes will take part amongst 30 teams from across Canada and the United States.
Kruszewski calls the event a celebration of both culture and sport. The opening ceremonies take place July 16 and he believes they will be aired on CBC.
Growing up in Baddeck, Kruszewski played mainly pick-up soccer because no organized soccer was available at the time. As a keen runner, he started playing with teams when attending chiropractic college 20 years ago. He plays the sport now and has managed and coached teams over the past few years.
“I definitely play a running game,” Kruszewski adds. He ran the Boston Marathon this spring.
The third member of the family who is excited to head to the games is Kruszewski’s son Nelson. He is a member of the Nova Scotia track team.
While the host city is Toronto, the soccer teams will compete July 17-22 at the Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University in Hamilton.
The North American Indigenous Games are the largest sporting and cultural gathering for First Nations people on the continent.