2020 is going to be another busy year in Nunavut for sport and recreation so it’s time to take a look at what should dominate the headlines as athletes and communities start to ramp things up.

Recreation co-ordinator David Clark puts the finishing touches on the Polar Bear Plate tournament logo just in time for the grand opening of the new arena in Rankin Inlet on Nov. 23. The new arena should provide some more exciting hockey for Rankin Inlet this year. photo courtesy of Brian Tattuinee

Here’s what you can expect to see:

Pond Inlet’s Field of Dreams

Recall last April when the Jays Care Foundation announced that it would be one of the communities to receive a grant through its Field of Dreams program … $150,000, to be exact, to help get the community’s baseball diamond back into shape.

That $150,000 will cover everything needed to make baseball a much better pastime in Pond Inlet: bleachers, dugouts, benches, drainage system and, most importantly, brand new turf for the outfield because you can’t really grow grass in Pond Inlet; the tree line ends somewhere near the NWT-Nunavut border.

Dawn Currie MacKinnon, executive director of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN), said back in April that the whole thing came about after a cruise ship operated by One Ocean Expeditions docked in the community.

“One of the things the passengers wanted to do was play a game of baseball once they saw the field. The diamond was in pretty rough shape but they worked with it and did the best they could.”

It’s a safe bet that once passengers return to the community in the near future, they will notice a change for the better.

Nunavut’s medal haul at the 2020 Arctic Winter Games

As a unit, Team Nunavut won 55 ulus at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. That’s a fine total, considering the territory didn’t compete in every sport. But there’s every reason to believe that the total will go up this year and here’s why:

One look at the wrestling team and you’ll notice that most of those who are scheduled to make the trip to Whitehorse for the Games have major Games experience. There’s no need to go on about Eekeeluak Avalak of Cambridge Bay because he’s already the presumptive favourite in his weight class, no matter who steps in front of him. What people should be doing is put a stopwatch on him to see how fast he beats everyone who steps in front of him.

The hockey teams will be out for a measure of revenge, especially the midget boys squad. Martin Joy of Iqaluit has the job of ensuring the bitter silver ulu result from two years is rectified this time around and don’t think he doesn’t know that. He had the bantams two years ago and was in attendance for the midget boys game. He doesn’t need to be reminded.

David Clark of Rankin Inlet will provide a steady hand for the bantam boys and that division is always a crapshoot while the girls team will be in tough with the likes of Alaska, the NWT and Alberta North sending some pretty strong teams.

Arctic sports will be where Nunavut will see most of its success and if Drew Bell of Arviat is part of the line-up, you can pretty much make a nameplate for him and rotate it around the podium. He will clean up, like he usually does.

Badminton is another sport where the territory is always competitive and should be again though there is the perennial worry about Greenland and Alberta North. Greenland is always the presumptive favourites in any badminton competition at the Games but Nunavut should give them a good run. The speedskaters will also be in with a loud shout as they look to build on their success from 2018.

Expect this team to come home with 65 ulus this time around.

Competitive hockey in Rankin Inlet

The new barn in Rankin Inlet is finally open and that loud noise you may have heard coming from the Kivalliq region last November was the community breathing a huge sigh of relief.

The old barn had its heyday with several wonderful memories from tournaments gone by but expect some better tournaments this time around. Why? Well, it’s a level and regulation ice surface. The ice at the old arena was uneven in spots and it was a few feet short. The new ice is even all the way around and it’s 200 x 85, the proper North American regulation dimensions.

We don’t know how the tournaments will turn out but you can expect more excitement from Hockeytown and the community will turn out to support it. But you knew that already.

You have any ideas on what Nunavut sport will look like in 2020? Drop us a line at sports@nnsl.com and let us know.

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