Team Avalon set for the 2014 NL Winter Games

Nicholas Mercer
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Inside the highly energetic Clarenville Event Centre on March 1 it was hard for members of Team Avalon to hide their smiles.


They were in Clarenville for the opening ceremonies for the 2014 NL Winter Games.

It was a dazzling display of community pride. Hosted by Newfoundland comedian Snook, the ceremony included raucous musical performances, speeches from provincial dignitaries including Premier Tom Marshall and a stirring torch lighting ceremony, Clarenville showed itself to be a world-class host.

There was even a video message from Newfoundland Olympian Kaetlyn Osmond.

“This is insane,” said Shearstown skier Taylor Hutchings.

“I never thought it would be like this,” added her brother Joey.

Joey and Taylor are competing in cross-country skiing. It was a sport they became involved in through the cadet movement.

Team Avalon is made up of many athletes from the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region. Upon entering the covered ice area of the stadium, it quickly came apparent team members were ready to get the Games underway.

They were among the some 700 competitors who attended the opening ceremony.

Most had spent the earlier part of the day travelling the two-hour drive to the host community by bus. While it was undoubtedly a long haul for most, it was easy to see a sparkle in their eye at the thought of testing their skills against the best this province has to offer.

“I know I’m not the absolute best there is in the pack out here, but I’m going to do my best tomorrow and just enjoy that I’m out here doing it,” said Taylor.

They were similar words as those spoken by Marshall as he addressed a jam packed audience at the CEC.

He implored athletes to give their all in the spirit of fair play and competition.

“Play hard, and play fair. Make friends and make every moment count," Marshall said.

Letting their emotion show, Avalon members were among the more enthusiastic teams when their names were called.   They watched as Snook, or Pete Soucey, poked playful jabs at Marshall, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball and Trinity North MHA Ross Wiseman. At times, Soucey reduced the entire arena in fits of laughter.

With the motto of ‘Ready, Set, Snow!’ the Games brings together the finest competitors this province has to offer.  From female hockey, wrestling and cross-country skiing, to male and female basketball, Clarenville will see the best competition available.

“It’s a great experience,” said Avalon male basketball coach John Douglas.

Athletes from the region will get underway in their respective competitions bright and early on March 2 at venues all over Clarenville.

“I’m ready to go,” said Clarke’s Beach hockey player Kaila LeDrew.

Organizations: CEC

Geographic location: Clarenville, Newfoundland, Placentia

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