Indigenous Games yield golden memories for Richmond's Morrison family
Winding their way home Monday from the 2014 North American Indigenous Games that wrapped up last weekend in Regina, one Richmond family was particularly grateful for the lifetime of memories packed into the seven-day sports festival.
Kevin and Jerrie-Lynn Morrison had just experienced the pride that comes with watching their daughter play a key role in her Team B.C. under-16 girls’ softball club win gold Friday with a thrilling 6-5 final-game victory over Team Saskatchewan. But it was more than just seeing Annie realize her goal that made these Games special.
It was more than just another ball tournament for our daughter. The North American Indigenous Games was really a unique experience for everyone,” said Jerrie-Lynn. “It was like going to a giant powwow with all the different First Nation and Native American multi-generational families gathered there in one place.”
“There were babies in arms, toddlers and little kids running around, and proud aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas in the stands watching with parents and siblings. But instead of watching dancers and drummers compete we were watching athletes compete,” said Jerrie-Lynn.
The Games were a “wonderful Olympic-like experience for youth,” she said. The organizers put on an impressive opening ceremonies and the athletes had plenty of opportunity to meet other athletes from across B.C., Canada and the U.S.
Said Annie: “My favourite part of the Games was getting to meet people from different parts of North America.”
On the field, Annie, just 14, showed her great athleticism by playing centrefield in a defensive role instead of her usual positions of first base and pitcher with the Richmond Islanders. She made a spectacular diving catch in B.C.’s 9-1 opening-game victory over Saskatchewan on July 23.
Offensively, Annie was the lead-off hitter for B.C.
“(Coach Joni Frei) said I could slap bunt from the left side to get on base. And if runners were on base I had to hit from the right side to move them over or hit them in,” explained Annie.
In addition to the U16 girls’ softball team’s gold, Team B.C. (500 athletes and coaches) was recognized for its sportsmanship and had the highest medal count in the Games. This is the first time Team B.C. has finished atop the Games, and in doing so becomes the first team in the history of the Games to win both the overall title and John Fletcher Spirit Award—presented to the contingent that best demonstrates the spirit of teamwork, fair play, respect and integrity throughout the week-long competition.
B.C. competed in 13 sports and won 160 medals—63 gold, 49 silver and 48 bronze.