Athletes from across the Labrador Straits and beyond all flocked to L’Anse-au-Loup on Thanksgiving weekend to celebrate the game of volleyball.
The inaugural Straits Thanksgiving Classic volleyball tournament was held at Labrador Straits Academy (LSA) in L’Anse-au-Loup from Oct 11-13.
Over 100 players signed up for the event, travelling from as far away as Nain and Gander.
Athletes comprised eight men’s teams and nine women’s team.
They squared off in a round robin format with the top three teams from each division advancing.
At the end, the Wammers, a team comprised of players from the Labrador Straits with one player from Carmenville and one player from Goose Bay, was crowned the champions in the men’s division.
Team All Set, comprised of three players from the Labrador Straits, two from Sheshatshiu and one from Nain, was crowned the women’s champions.
The tournament was the brainchild of Neko Butt, an NL Hydro employee from nearby Pinware, who is currently living in Goose Bay.
Butt played volleyball while attending high school at LSA.
He says, back then, he had always wanted to arrange an event for adults as well, but it never came to fruition.
“I was kind of regretting that while I was living down here, we never had any kind of tournament or event like that,” he told The Northern Pen.
Since moving to Goose Bay, Butt and a few pals who played together in high school picked the sport back up.
Interest for a tournament grew.
As he travelled up the north coast of Labrador for work, he found more and more people willing to participate.
It snowballed from there.
For Butt, the event was all about the love of sport and trying to promote the game of volleyball along the Labrador Straits.
“People get to a certain age, along the coast, where they fall off from sports and don’t do it anymore, because there’s nothing there for it,” he said.
Now, he’s hoping to provide them a tournament every year.
Given the success of this year’s event, planning has already started for a sequel next year.
Butt says he was able to pull off the event with help from a number of sponsors and volunteers.
The Northern Light Inn in L’Anse-au-Clair provided accommodations for athletes and donated first and second place medals.
The Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company, the Community Youth Network, H&F Design, Dot’s Bakery and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador also sponsored the tournament.