Nicole Gerow, local resident guided two local athletes of Burns Lake to represent Team B.C. at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax, Nova Scotia which started on July 15 and ended on July 23.
Gerow is a member of Tsil Kaz Koh First Nation and an activist for several volunteer groups in town. She has been coaching for several years and took official coach training in 2016 with B.C. Target Sports and ISPARC.
This is her second time attending NAIG with Team B.C. “I did have to upgrade a couple of my coaching courses prior to the event however those were easily completed online,” she said.
Marissa Crouse and Hadley Williams are the two athletes who went with her at Halifax NAIG 2023.
Williams competed in 3D archery and Crouse competed in rifle shooting.
Williams said, “I like 3D archery, it’s more of like a hunting basis thing.” Williams has been practicing archery in her backyard right after purchasing her own compound bow, targets and single pin sight scope. She later had difficulty finding thirty and 40 yards to practice for her competitions. Williams sated, she found an empty bowl space when baseball was canceled can practiced there for her preparation. By the time she entered Halifax NAIG 2023, she already has about 50 to 60 hours of shooting experience.
Gerow said, “Marissa and I were training up to three days a week over the last few months to tune in her skills.” Crouse had already learned through the shooting program with TPRG and Burns Lake Army Cadets.
Gerow did not do a lot of mentoring with Williams but assisted her with finding an appropriate bow to use and making some adjustments to the bow like the draw length, weight, lending her copies of where the scoring rings are on the targets and encouragement.
Williams’ mentorship came from mainly family and coaches prior to the games.
She stated, “Watching Marissa compete was both exciting and nerve wrecking.”
During the competition, she was only able to observe and not coach until after the relay has been completed. Crouse had a good idea of what to do and how to do it. Gerow only had to supply a little guidance and encouragement between relays.
Gerow was unable to watch Williams’ competition as they were in a different location.
“We were staying at the same location so I was able to keep up with how Williams was doing in the evenings when we would see each other in the dining room,” Gerow said.
During the competition, Crouse shot well and brought home a bronze medal in the third position match, a silver medal in the prone match and a silver in the overall standings. Williams overcome several hurdles including shooting from further back than necessary and all sorts of weather conditions to shoot her personal best advancing through the elimination rounds to finish fourth in her division.
Crouse had to shoot 120 shots in the third position match over two day plus a 60 shots prone match. Williams shot a total of seven rounds at the archery range.
Gerow also said, both athletes had a chance to see the Prime Minister who was sitting across them during the opening ceremony at the Scotiabank Centre Halifax hockey arena.
Gerow was thrilled when she saw Crouse stand on the podium and be awarded her three medals.
She would like to see Crouse remain active in the sport as either an athlete on a provincial/national level or as a mentor. Crouse will not be able to participate in the next NAIG 2027 because of her age.
Gerow also said, Williams on the other hand, improved so much over the last few months it would be fantastic to see her continue competing at a provincial level and hopefully attend the 2027 Games in Calgary in the under nineteen category.
Williams said, she wants to compete in provincial and national archery competitions. She is also preparing herself for the next NAIG 2027 which will be held in Calgary.
Gerow is thankful to all the athletes who participated in the NAIG 2023. “Thank you to the athletes for putting their names forward and their families for supporting and believing in them,” she said.
At press time Lakes District News was unable to get comment from Crouse.