Napatchie Lyta: a team player


AWG Host Society

IQALUIT — A group of Iqaluit girls represented the Northwest Territories as the junior girls’ soccer team at the 1996 Arctic Winter Games in Eagle River, Alaska.

“Five years have passed and we are still a team,” Napatchie Lyta says. Even when they can’t get together, they talk on the phone and offer and accept advice, she says, because they’re an important support system for each other.

“They are all still my best friends,” Napatchie adds. In the spirit of teamwork, the girls brought home the silver ulu.

Napatchie, 22, is the constituency assistant for Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo. She speaks volumes of the confidence that being part of a soccer team and competing internationally brought to her life.

“Sports gives you high self-esteem,” she says. “It makes you focus on yourself, your team and your body. You exercise your mind when you play sports, too. This all makes you a stronger person.”

She adds that she never thought she would make it to where she is today and believes that involvement in sport has played a role.

“Going to the Arctic Winter Games was the best time in my life,” Napatchie says. “I never thought I’d have the chance to meet so many different people from so many different places, and I can’t even put into words what it felt like to be representing my territory.”

Her advice to up-and-coming athletes is: “Go for it no matter what … never give up.”

She adds that playing soccer made her stronger — physically and mentally. “The strength is still with me. I can still feel it.”

Napatchie is quick to praise team coach Marilyn Neily, who, she says, was incredibly supportive. “She really believed in us, so we believed in ourselves,” Napatchie says.

Marilyn still has a picture of the 1996 Arctic Winter Games Junior Girls Soccer Team hanging in her office. “I was proud of the accomplishment that each player made, but especially proud of the unit and how they work together as a team. I still remember every shot. They were a really good bunch of kids.”

Marilyn adds that she enjoyed seeing them take responsibility for their roles on the team. She continues to see the girls thriving and succeeding when she runs into them around town.

Napatchie is quick to credit the local businesses that sponsored the team, and the community who supported their fundraising efforts. “It takes an entire community to make a team successful,” she says.

Napatchie looks forward to seeing “different countries in our little capital” at the 2002 Iqaluit Games. “Kids who don’t play sports will want to be a part of it after they experience the excitement and spirit of the Games,” she says. She plans to volunteer for the 2002 Iqaluit Games in any way possible. “One can’t possibly just watch, you have to be a part of it!”

The 2002 Iqaluit Arctic Winter Games will be held in Iqaluit March 17-23, 2002. The Arctic Winter Games is the most prestigious multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-sport event in the circumpolar North.

The games reach nearly a million people from communities across Canada, Greenland, Russia and the U.S., and they are second-to-none in having an ability to promote the history, culture and artistic traditions of the north – directly to millions of observers – for an entire week.

The Iqaluit Host Society is the non-profit organization responsible for staging the 2002 games.

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