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Regional competition returns to softball tournament

Baker Lake has invited teams from around the Kivalliq for the second annual Swing Flames softball tournament July 29 to Aug. 2.
Keenan Kaayak, the son of Solomon Tulurialik, throws the opening pitch to Ronny Nagyougalik (batter) and Barbara Nagyougalik (catcher), who are Tulurialik’s parents, at the first Swing Flames softball tournament in Baker Lake last year. The tournament — held in honour of Tulurialik, who drowned in 2019 — will see its second edition kick off on July 31. photo courtesy of Florence Nagyougalik

Baker Lake has invited teams from around the Kivalliq for the second annual Swing Flames softball tournament July 29 to Aug. 2.

The event is held in honour of the late Solomon Tulurialik, who drowned near Baker Lake in July 2019. Florence Nagyougalik, Tulurialik’s younger sister, said he had big dreams of helping others. Among other things, he wanted to teach softball and hockey to children and everyone around him.

“He was an amazing, loving father to both his children, hockey coach and a good inspiration to many of the youth,” Nagyougalik told Kivalliq News.

She came up with the idea to host a tournament that celebrated Tulurialik’s life on the first anniversary of his death last year, she said.

“Solomon was a positive guy who cared about everyone. He was very athletic, made people feel happy, lifted them up and helped everyone in every way he could,” Nagyougalik said. “He wanted everyone to have the best life they could. He always had a smile on his face no matter what was happening or what he was going through. He always held his chin high and shared the positive things in life.”

Last year’s memorial tournament featured two separate categories, one for youth and one for adults. Due to a lack of volunteers, there won’t be a youth tournament this year, although Nagyougalik remains hopeful that it will return next year.

In total, six local teams took part in the adult tournament in 2020.

The Mound Pounders ended up winning gold, beating the Jets, with the Invaders finishing in third.

“Everyone was happy and excited for the community,” Nagyougalik said of the local support for last year’s event.

Because of COVID-19, Baker Lake was unable to invite teams from other communities last year. However, this year some players from Arviat reached out and asked if they could travel to play. Shawn Attungula, one of the other tournament organizers, requested permission from the chief public health officer, who eventually allowed visiting teams to participate.

At first, Arviat was worried it might not be able to send a team due to a lack of funding. However, the hamlet offered to help support the ball players at the last minute. Families in Baker Lake have also stepped up to offer accommodations to the travelling teams to help keep costs down.

In addition to Arviat, Coral Harbour and Rankin Inlet have also expressed interest in being part of the competition.

“We’re excited for more teams to play,” said Nagyougalik.

There were five teams from Baker Lake confirmed in addition to one from Arviat and another from Rankin Inlet as of July 29. Nagyougalik said additional billets may be needed if the other teams decide to come.

Any players interested in travelling to Baker Lake should contact Nagyougalik.