M’CHIGEENG—Noojmowin Teg Health Centre and M’Chigeeng First Nation partnered up to provide youth, ages 11-14 years, with a six-week slo-pitch program. The goal of their continued partnership efforts is get youth physically active and live a healthy lifestyle.
The first three weeks of the program was all practice, learning basic rules of the sport, and skill development drills to work on the fundamentals of throwing, catching, and batting. Coaching for the first three weeks was provided by Mark Peltier, recently certified as an NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) Community Softball Coach. Assisting with coaching duties was Lakota Preston, Youth Program Worker for M’Chigeeng First Nation. Further to promoting a healthy physically active lifestyle, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre promotes other aspects of health as well. Participants of the youth slo-pitch program were provided with healthy snacks and beverages after each session, promoting healthy nutrition and the consumption of water to stay hydrated over energy drinks or pop. Participants also received information on smoking prevention where the youth were made aware of ‘traditional’ tobacco, how First Nations people traditionally use tobacco, vs. commercial tobacco, the health problems that it causes, and how to handle peer pressure.
In weeks four, five and six of the program, exhibition games were arranged with other communities on Manitoulin. Coaching duties for the team were handed over to Lakota Preston and Faith Beaudin, while Mr. Peltier’s duties transferred over to umpire. With jerseys provided for all players, the team was named M’Chigeeng Warriors. For their first exhibition game, M’Chigeeng travelled to Whitefish River where they walked away with their first win after a close and exciting game. In week five of the program, M’Chigeeng travelled to Aundeck Omni Kaning where they came away with their second win.
In week six of their slo-pitch program, the M’Chigeeng Warriors got the opportunity to play a home game in front of their hometown fans. The game would be their toughest challenge yet, playing against a combine team of Manitowaning and Aundeck Omni Kaning (nicknamed the ‘Manitowaning Raiders’). Coaching for the Manitowaning Raiders was provided by Michelle Dey and Mandy Shawanda. Music was played during warm ups and in between innings with DJ service provided by Blake Debassige. Mr. Debassige even announced players’ names as they came up to bat, providing the players with a ‘major league’ feel. The action was back and forth, with Manitowaning Raiders taking a 6-5 lead after 5 innings. In the sixth inning, the Raiders loaded the bases with only one out, looking like they were going to build on their lead. However, a fly ball was hit to center field where it was caught for the second out. The runner on second base did not tag up and was caught running to 3rd, as M’Chigeeng managed to get the double play for the third out and no runs scored. At bat at the bottom of the sixth, M’Chigeeng scored the maximum 5 runs allowed for an inning, taking a 10-6 lead. Manitowaning Raiders were unable to score any runs at their last bat at the top of the seventh, giving M’Chigeeng their third win, finishing their season 3 and 0.
Game star awards were awarded to one boy and one girl for each team, selected by the opposing team’s coaches. Game stars for the Manitowaning Raiders were Divine Commanda and Jake Robinson. For the M’Chigeeng Warriors, game star awards went to Julie Panamick and Kal Debassige. For coming out to the six-week slo-pitch program, four tickets to see the Toronto Blue Jays live was provided as a door prize draw for the M’Chigeeng youth, provided by Noojmowin Teg Health Centre. The winner of the draw was Mnissing Migwans.
For more information on upcoming physical activity programs for children and youth, please contact Nelson Wood, Healthy Living Children’s Program coordinator (servicing ages 6-10 years) or Mark Peltier, Healthy Living Youth Program coordinator (servicing ages 11-14 years), at 705-368-0229; visit our website www.noojmowin-teg.ca, or “Like” us on Facebook, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre.