Team Southeast is getting a pump up for the Saskatchewan Winter Games, which will be held this year in Regina from February 19th to the 25th.
"There will be participation from upwards of 1,500 young athletes from every corner of the province will be competing in 16 different sports, so we are taking a team from southeast, here from the Weyburn and Estevan areas and rural communities," said Executive Director for the Southeast Sport, Culture, and Recreation District, Joni Hagen.
She said they'll be hosting a Pep Rally on Sunday, February 5th to help cheer on the athletes.
"We host a pep rally to celebrate Team Southeast as they prepare their participation for the 2023 Saskatchewan Games program, so we have a fun afternoon planned, where we have special guests bringing greetings," she explained. "The host committee from Regina comes and they bring greetings. We do an introduction of all the sports teams that will be going to the games."
"The teams also received their walkout uniforms and they get information on the important details that they know about the games. So the pepper really is basically an opportunity for the sports teams to come together and get pumped up about the upcoming games. We have mascots coming, and music, it's really just a fun-filled afternoon of excitement. And we have Richy Roy as our emcee and DJ for the event."
Hagen said the pep rally generates the excitement needed to spur on the players.
"Because athletes are coming from various communities in the southeast, there's an opportunity for each athlete and coaching manager to see who else is going to be going to the games as a part of Team Southeast. It is about that building that excitement and also making sure that they know all the details that they need to be aware of as they prepare for competition at the games."
All of the winter sports will be represented during the games: Alpine skiing, artistic swimming, futsal, gymnastics, speed skating, table tennis, badminton, biathlon, bowling, Special Olympics bowling, curling, weightlifting, and wrestling.
"We will have close to 200 athletes going to the games," she noted, adding that with family in attendance, 350 people could fill McKenna Hall that afternoon.
Hagen said the Sask Winter Games haven't been held since 2018, and this year is special because it's the 50th anniversary of the games.
"The games were first established in 1972, and it is the first time in the history of the event that it will be hosted in Regina," she shared. "We're hoping for lots of medals, and even for the athletes that don't get medals, it's just a pretty cool opportunity for our young athletes because it is kind of like a mini-Olympics, and many athletes that go to the Saskatchewan Games actually end up going onto national and international competitions. So it is kind of a stepping stone for many local athletes to participate in."
"Everybody's really eager to participate, and especially the coaches and managers as well. They've been waiting to take their athletes and to be able to coach at that provincial level games," she concluded. "It's a pretty exciting time for those volunteers as well."
While it's not a public event, the pep rally also helps to build awareness about the games being more local this time. Additional volunteers for the Sask Winter Games will also be welcomed.