The third annual Swing Flames Softball Tournament was different from the first two, in a good way.
Florence Nagyougalik, the younger sister of Solomon Tulurialik, for whom the event is held in honour after his passing in 2019, was rushing around after securing sponsors to order plaques, trophies and medals for the Aug. 11-14 event.
After “emails everywhere,” she finally got in touch with Stewart’s Trophies and Engravings, which was able to complete a rush order that made it to Baker Lake five days before the start of the competition.
The tournament committee agreed it would be best for her grandfather, Hugh Tulurialik, to open the boxes and touch the medals first.
“It was very special,” said Nagyougalik.
An opening ceremony and prayers began the tournament, followed by Nagyougalik’s nephew Keenan Kaayak and niece Lucy Martee throwing the opening pitch while father Ronny Nagyougalik and Hugh Tulurialik did the batting.
From there, the games went on, eventually ending with Balls Deep coming out on top after four days of tournament play, which included seven local teams and one from Arviat.
“The main thing was for everyone to have fun and enjoy the softball tournament,” said Nagyougalik.
Solomon always loved big events, she said, which inspired the tournament’s first run on his the anniversary of his passing – an accidental drowning – in 2020.
“He was always positive, a very happy person, very kind and gentle person, athletic too,” said Nagyougalik. “Everyone wanted to be friends with him. He had a lot of friends — everyone from zero to elderly.”
The closing ceremony for this year’s tournament was the best ever, she added.
“We did a moment of silence for my grandmother, who moved south and wanted to have a little respect for us to think of her too,” said Nagyougalik. That was followed by draws, a closing speech and prizes that included return plane tickets.
Firefighters then set off fireworks for the crowd.
“It was amazing,” said Nagyougalik. “When it was all over, everyone gave me hugs and greeting me with kind words. Most said they cannot wait for the next annual, which made me so proud it was a success.”
Without help, it wouldn’t have been possible. Nagyougalik is already looking for volunteers for next summer’s event, as the tournament is getting bigger and bigger.
She also thanked Shawn Attungala for his endless effort in making the tournament possible and she said it was cute to see children have their own tournament beside the diamond.
“It was stressful but all the work paid off,” she said. “That’s how much I wanted to do this for my brother. I say he is smiling down and proud of how I am putting a lot of effort into making Baker Lake have fun. We look forward to the fourth annual Swing Flames Cup 2023.”