Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Girls’ Run runners!

The annual Girls Run event, established to empower women and girls had to switch to a virtual event this year and several Manitoulin runners took part. Congratulations to 10-year-old Madeline (Mady) Keller of Spring Bay who completed the 2.5K distance. Already training for cross-country, Mady. Good to see!

Hats off as well to Little Current’s Caitlynn McCaig, Mindemoya’s Andrea Seguin and Megean Madore completed the 5K. Running the 10K distance were Spring Bay’s Kristy Keller and Little Current’s Brenna Madore and Kimberly Knobel.

Masters Indigenous Games looking for athletes.

Although new opportunities to enter the 2021 Masters Indigenous Games (MIG) have yet to be set make sure you stay in touch with the website. The event will be in Ottawa next summer and there will be a series of Masters Regional Tours across the province to allow hopefuls to get out and show their stuff.

Last fall, a pair of local archers were promoting and recruiting for their sport of archery. Sheila Madahbee (Kinoshameg) and her husband Raymond Madahbee from Aundek Omni Kaning were the only two participants to hit all 20 targets in Saturday’s tournament. Sheila, incidentally, hit the bullseye 19 times out of 20!

MIG was introduced following the success of the organization’s long-standing North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which provides Indigenous youth aged 13-19 with the opportunity to compete against their peers in a variety of sporting activities. There have been NAIGs hosted every three years since being launched in Edmonton, Alberta in the year 1990. 

Every stop on the tour offers different sports according to the area, Sudbury for which, hosted archery, basketball and volleyball. Be like Ray and Sheila! 

Where were they then?

Thanks to my Dad and his amazing knowledge and care for his former players this is another installment recognizing a feature player. Being a coach can be very rewarding and eye-opening. It also gives the coach many hilarious stories in later years. One of the best payoffs is the characters you meet. In the first year (1986) of the Manitoulin midget Panthers, in one way they were all characters. However, I met a classic when Little Current’s Dale Harper appeared. 

A very good player, big and strong, he was not your average teenager. In fact, he spent half of his first game in the Current sitting on his butt on the floor behind the team bench. He had had a small disagreement with the assistant coach who banned him to the icy cement behind his teammates. A few times he attempted to get up (he was persistent) only to be sent back to the doghouse. Once he calmed down he was allowed back on the ice and into the game where he subsequently played well. 

As the season progressed he decided to become a team player and became one of the best D-men in the NDHL. Many stories abound about his learning curve. Early on his point shot would inevitably end over the glass and nowhere near the net which caused much consternation among the coaching staff. One of the staff was assigned to attempt to fix the problem. Was it his back-swing? Was it his follow-through? A lack of concentration? The problem continued to persist. Shortly we noticed Dale in the dressing room continually taping and re-taping the blade of his stick .This continued for some time and he kept launching high rockets. Once we finally questioned him as what he was doing he elucidated his theory. He had found an “advisor” who suggested that the way he taped his stick was causing the problem! He continued trying different taping structures on his blade for a few weeks with no change.

Finally we told him to stop with the taping and returned to attempting to correct his technique. Slowly he came around. Now the problem was our forwards who hesitated to crowd the net when they saw Dale with the puck. Eventually it all worked out as his concentration improved. He even made the NDHL 2nd All-Star team. On our first road game against the Rayside-Balfour AAA team (they had refused to join the Great North Midget AAA League yet the NDHL allowed them to compete in a league of AA, A and B teams). Rayside had been practicing for three weeks and had players from as far away as BC. 

We went into their barn with only a single practice under our belt. We were disorganized and out of shape. To illustrate, we lost 19-1 and had to suffer the laughs of the Rayside players and fans. But back to the Dale story. During the first period when we were already losing 8 -0 Dale came to the bench and I asked ‘what do you see happening out there?’ Instantly, he said ‘Coach, it’s unbelievable! They’re multiplying out there.’ To show the character of our lads three months later we beat Rayside 4-3, which embarrassed them and lifted us up. It was the only game Rayside lost in the entire year in the NDHL. Dale became a large part of our redemption.

Local paddler gets recognition

Mark Gibeault, paddler, paddling instructor and canoe builder, was recently featured in a post from the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre. It was a very complimentary shout-out, highlighting his background to paddle-sports as well as some of his accomplishments in racing and some of his paddling certifications including Paddle Canada Level 3 Sea Kayak Skills and is a PC Level 2 Instructor and Kayak Rolling Instructor. Way to go, Mark!

A sport?

Under the category ‘what makes a sport, post-COVID,’ how about worm picking? My brother, J.P. Leblanc is a bit of a savant in the oddly, physically demanding skill. With smallmouth bass loving their night-crawlers so much and dew-worms being crazy expensive in the stores, hence a daily, midnight competition to see how many we can scoop up. After many calculations it is official, J.P. is 71.3 percent more successful than me!


A good sport is good for sports.