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Spirits high as Deer Lake puts out welcome mat for 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games

Led by Aliyah Alexander, holding the team sign, Team Western athletes are introduced at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Saturday night at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake.
Led by Aliyah Alexander, holding the team sign, Team Western athletes are introduced at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Saturday night at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake. - Dave Kearsey

Seeing young male and female athletes from all over the province in one place in an upbeat mood, singing and dancing, decked out in their team colours.

It was a sight worth waiting for.

It was all about the athletes Saturday night in Deer Lake as a capacity crowd attended the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.

The ceremony, with over 600 athletes on hand and Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball and Premier Dwight Ball among the special guests, was delayed for about 45 minutes because there was a minor issue with bussing the students to the venue.

Nobody got bent out of shape. Everybody was content to wait for the guests of honour.

Kyle Campbell, a 14-year-old member of the host male hockey team was one of the young athletes who was excited about having Deer Lake play host to the Games.

The 15-year-old said it’s pretty cool to have a tiny town take on a huge event like the Games.

“It’s nice to just be the host and show the people what Deer Lake is and show how good we are at hockey and every other sport we’re participating in,” Campbell said Saturday night.

He has his goals set for the Games and appreciates knowing his family and friends are going to be able to watch him play at home.

The Games haven’t been held in his town since 2006 so he knows it’s not something that comes along very often so he’s using it as a showcase.

“I’m looking forward to just striving to get more,” he said. “Just trying to work my hardest that I ever had for such a big audience. This is my chance to show people how I play and how I’ve developed since a young age.”

Allee Simmons of the host female volleyball team is looking forward to having fun playing a sport she loves. She would be content if her team was able to pull out one win and she’s happy about being able to play in a major event at home.

“It’s pretty cool having it here so you can see all the different athletes,” Simmons said.

Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball, left, and Premier Dwight Ball were among the dignitaries on hand for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Saturday night in Deer Lake.
Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball, left, and Premier Dwight Ball were among the dignitaries on hand for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Saturday night in Deer Lake.

Host Deer Lake Devils' Kyle Campbell shoots and scores while Eastern's Lucas Jefford tries to chase him down.
Host Deer Lake Devils' Kyle Campbell shoots and scores while Eastern's Lucas Jefford tries to chase him down.

Team Central makes its way to the ice surface at the Hodder during the opening ceremony for the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games.
Team Central makes its way to the ice surface at the Hodder during the opening ceremony for the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games.

The first medal of the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games was won by Cori Hicks of Team Western, who skied in the female para Nordic race at Pasadena Ski and Nature Park on Sunday afternoon
The first medal of the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games was won by Cori Hicks of Team Western, who skied in the female para Nordic race at Pasadena Ski and Nature Park on Sunday afternoon

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