There wasn’t a medal on Whitney Magnuson’s return flight, but she gets to bring back a lot of other rewards from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
Magnuson is a Quesnel athletic standout from Metis First Nation heritage who played on B.C.’s 19U Female Volleyball team at the events held in Halifax this past week. Team BC went an unfortunate 0-4 in the round robin portion of the tournament, in their pool with Alberta and Manitoba, leaving them out of the playoffs. Nonetheless, the personal growth was substantial. The B.C. group featured only two 19- and one 18-yer-old players. Magnuson and the rest were 17 (one was 16), so she was thrust into development roles that will stand them all in good stead for years to come.
“I tried out for the volleyball team in Grade 8 just to try and make some knew friends,” she said, remembering her start five years ago. “But over time I fell in love with the sport. I practiced every day, went to every tournament, anytime there was an opportunity to play volleyball, I did.”
All volleyball players must train at both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. Magnuson feels she excels at the defensive side, as well as serving, the initiation of the team’s offense.
“I practice these skills more than others because I believe that these two skills offer more potential for a better offense,” she said. “I know personally that a strong defense is the best offense.”
It must be working. When she was in Grade 8, she made the senior team. In 2022 she played at the Volleyball Canada nationals with her Cobras club team, and she’s been at provincials every year since 2019. Last year, she won tournament MVP honours, and also the sportsmanship award, demonstrating the well-rounded personality to which she aspires.
“Being coached by different coaches shows you different perspectives of the game, and gives you a new way to look at the sport,” she said, but even still, the Indigenous showcase was not an automatic choice for her.
She said, “I was debating it because it was for all over B.C. and I didn’t think that I stood a chance, but my parents insisted that I try, so I did.”
She made the team, and now has added an international experience to her collection.
“For me the most exciting thing about this trip is travelling around Halifax with my teammates and doing things as a team, trying something new, and being around the team environment,” she said. “I believe that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For personal growth, I hope to learn, and see volleyball from a different perspective after this experience. For the future I hope to still play and excel in volleyball. I want to play and experience these events for as long as possible.”