Saskatchewan girls made history at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) as they were among the first to compete in the new 19 and under women’s Box Lacrosse category.
“It means everything to say that. Not many people can say that you’ve been a part of something like that and making history,” said 15-year-old Annakah Ratt from Prince Albert.
The ninth annual NAIG was held in Toronto from July 16-23, 2017.
The teen has been playing lacrosse for the past two years. She said she got into the sport after watching her two younger brothers compete, and now the game has become a daily part of life.
“We’re there when the season starts up, like 24/7 with the boys and the Rush and my games practicing. It’s a lot, but it’s amazing.”
Ratt said she was nervous, but extremely excited to take part in the games, which served as a unique bonding experience with her teammates.
“I’ve never felt that close to as many people as I thought I would, like usually I’m pretty shy and keep to myself but with these girls I felt like I could be so open with them,” she said.
Ratt gave her parents a bit of a scare when she had to go to the hospital during the games due to dehydration.
“I was running towards the bench and I almost made it to the bench and I just fell really hard and I bruised my own knees,” she said. “My coach had to pick me up from the field and my mom had to carry me off.”
Ratt said her coaches told her she overworked herself. The teen’s father drove her to the hospital where she received an IV at the hospital to re-hydrate.
Although women were represented for the first time in the box lacrosse category at NAIG this year, there is still one where they’re missing.
“There should be representation for younger girls who play baseball, and that’s what we did in Lacrosse,” she said.
“When we were there, there was this one lady who came up to us and she was getting our signatures and autographs for her 11-year-old girl who wanted to play lacrosse, but was to scared too.”
Ratt said she plans on continuing in the sport and hopes to be at the next games.
“(It’s) empowering to know that women are now able to play this, especially in the North American Indigenous Games, and how we were the first and to know that we’re actually empowering other generations of women to play this too and not to be afraid,” Ratt said.
On Friday, the provincial government congratulated all of Team Saskatchewan’s athletes on placing second overall for the second year in a row.
In total, Team Saskatchewan went home with 166 medals, including 65 gold.