Songhees Nation athletes to compete at indigenous games

The North American Indigenous Games take place July 16 to 23.

The first time Joshua Bryce played box lacrosse it came to him naturally.

Feeling the weight of the stick in his hand and the rolling of the ball in the mesh as he dashed up the field towards the goal felt right to Bryce.

“It came to me naturally, so I just stayed with it,” said the 13-year-old Shoreline middle school student. “I kept the stick in my hand and I was used to it.”

Bryce is one of seven athletes from the Songhees Nation selected to compete for B.C. at the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto, July 16 to 23.

“I was pretty excited,” said Bryce on being selected for Team B.C. “I’m honoured to make the team.”

Bryce’s love for lacrosse started when he was four. He began playing in mini tykes and eventually made his way onto Victoria Esquimalt Lacrosse Association Eagles teams, where he currently plays defense in the bantam division. Bryce is preparing over the next few weeks to participate in a new level of competition at the Games.

Caleb Sam is also excited and ready for the challenge of competing against higher level opponents. The 15-year-old defender will play soccer for Team B.C. during the Games.

“We hope to win the whole thing. I’m a little nervous because I don’t know what to expect, but happy at the same time,” said Sam, who enters Grade 10 at Esquimalt High in the fall and currently plays in the Vancouver Island Soccer League.

The trip will be one of firsts for Sam, as it will be his first time attending a major sporting event and his first time on an airplane.

For his part, Bryce is looking forward to picking up new lacrosse tricks and meeting the Thompson brothers, four First Nations siblings who play in the National Lacrosse League.

Lukas Dick, Michael Maresca, Rayn Cook-Thomas, Nathan and Gavin Sam will also be representing the Songhees Nation and B.C. at the Games.

The North American Indigenous Games is the largest continental sporting and cultural gathering of indigenous people, welcoming more than 5,000 athletes to compete in 14 sports, and 2,000 volunteers.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

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Caleb Sam kicks a soccer ball around at Esquimalt High. Sam is one of seven athletes from the Songhees Nation who have been selected to compete in the North American Indigenous Games in July. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

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