Over the next week, three Nisga’a basketball superstars will compete in the National Indigenous Games (NIG) in Nova Scotia. The games are meant to inspire, empower and showcase the talent of Indigenous athletes.
Stanley Yeomans-Stewart will play for Team BC in the men’s under-14 basketball tournament. He got into basketball while growing up in Laxgalts’ap.
“I played basketball with a lot of older players and they encouraged me to play more,” said Stanley.
Over the past three years, Stanley has been focused on improving his basketball skills. He attended a basketball camp in Richmond in 2020 and 2021. Later in 2021, he also moved to Prince Rupert and joined the high school’s basketball team.
“I’ve become a lot better at playing my role on the team,” said Stanley.
In an effort to take his basketball career to the next level, Stanley tried out for the 2023 games.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to start playing basketball outside the province,” said Stanley.
Stanley was ecstatic when he discovered he qualified.
“I was really surprised. There are some incredible players who I’ll be playing against,” said Stanley.
Stanley will play alongside nine other players on the Team BC team.
Stanley has some advice for up-and-coming Indigenous athletes.
“If you’re not playing one position very well, just try another one. It’s also important to hustle and try your best,” said Stanley.
Willis Stanley is from Gingolx and will play for Team BC in the men’s under-19 basketball tournament.
Willis became intrigued about basketball when he saw the famous Perry Junior effortlessly dribble past opponents and score three pointers on the court.
Inspired by what he saw, Willis signed up to join a basketball team. During every practice and game, he’s honed in on his basketball skills and became an all-around great player.
Willis was thrilled upon discovering he’d be competing in the games.
He thanks everyone who’s supported him on his incredible basketball journey so far.
“I appreciate the support and encouragement from all. I would not be in this position without it,” said Willis in a statement.
Rayna Gosnell is a basketball player from Gitlaxt’aamix. She’ll play for Team BC in the women’s under-14 basketball tournament.
Remarkably, she only started playing the sport two and a half years ago. She’s become a star player on two basketball teams: The Gitmidiik Sonics and the Gidmidiik Junior Thunder.
While Rayna didn’t qualify for the past two games, her determination, perseverance and hard work finally paid off and she qualified for the 2023 games.
Rayna thanks her coaches and aunty for helping her become one of the best basketball players in the valley.
The games occur in a different part of the country every four years. Learn more by visiting the organizer’s official website.