Mamawi Atosktan Native School’s (MANS) volleyball team ended 2021 on a high note with an historic first place finish at in the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Tournament, hosted in part for the first time at MANS.
On the November 28 weekend, volleyball teams from 11 Seventh-day Adventist School gathered from across the province on the MANS campus and the College Heights campuses. The days were as long as they were rewarding. Games started at 9:00 am and went until 5:00 pm, with some teams playing six whole games.
The event was meaningful for MANS students for a few reasons. Hosting the tournament was an exciting way for MANS to contribute to the Seventh-day Adventist athletic community. Seeing and competing with other Seventh-day Adventist school teams provided a much-needed sense of normalcy for all the student-athletes. And, perhaps most exciting of all, the MANS Volleyball team went on to win the tournament in their division, becoming the FCA division B Champions of 2021.
Reflecting on the experience, MANS athletic coach Tessa Willing says, “It has been a challenging couple years in the athletic department, due to COVID… I know that hosting gave Mamawi students a sense of pride that we haven’t had in years past. We’re now one step closer to our athletic goals because of it.”
For Tessa, it is a heartening trend to see athletic skills and enthusiasm on the MANS campus steadily rise over the years. The recent tournament win and overall success of the MANS athletic department did not happen overnight; it has taken a lot of hard work on behalf of the whole school—especially Tessa, her colleagues, and the students she coaches. And Tessa coaches more than a few students.
As head athletic director, Tessa keeps tabs on three separate Volleyball teams—the A, B and C leagues. She is responsible for coaching the C league, and her colleague, Maress Emmons, coaches their B team, which also has students from Peace Hills Adventist School (PHAS) in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. The reason for having three separate leagues, Tessa explains, is because “The C and B leagues are developmental, and range from grade 5 to grade 8. The A league is the competitive league, consisting of students in grades 7 to 9. We always try to have a C team at Mamawi, as this is a good introduction to the sport and team play. We hope that we can have students playing at the FCA tournament from grades 5 to 9.”
Undoubtedly, winning and hosting MANS first volleyball championship will bolster school spirit. Already, even more students are interested in playing volleyball and other team sports. As captain of the winning team, Jeresyn Francis says of the tournament experience, “Everybody there did well. I had a good time, with good people. It was very exciting winning Mamawi’s first championship, and mine as well. This  is my first year at Mamawi, and I look forward to playing next year!”