THUNDER BAY – The Treaty 3 Titans have just returned from the Ontario Summer Indigenous Games in Ottawa where they dominated, bringing home nine medals, including four gold medals, and a silver medal in volleyball.
Kylan Whitehead from Webequie First Nation, who competed in the tournament for the first time this year, played in every game, helping the U19 men's team to victory.
“This is my first-time taking part of it, I had one pathway there before, like in 2020, before COVID shut down everything, but I went down to Kenora just to try out like it's like a five-hour drive from here or something,” he said.
“There was only two teams in U19. Two teams U16, so they kind of just mixed it all up and just had a championship where they had male overall in U19 championship so there was like medals for everybody basically.”
Whitehead’s performance was even more impressive when taking into consideration that he was only able to train starting a few months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The gyms opened up, like in Webequie, they just opened up in April or something, and that's kind of where we took off when they just lifted up all the community lock down stuff,” he said.
“And that's when I kind of started training, like going to the gym, picking up the weights and just playing some volleyball and just getting ready for the whatever, whatever's ahead.”
One thing that Whitehead wasn’t expecting was the interest in him by Durham College, which he is set to tour later in August.
“I wasn't excited, I was just scared and shocked at the same time because I wasn't expecting to have colleges scouting me during the week. I was just playing a tournament and trying to win a championship with the Treaty 3 Titans,” he said.
“Once I found out that that Durham College scout was recruiting people that week, I was shocked in the moment because there was a chance my dreams are just coming true.”
Whitehead attributes his success to playing in memory of his late friend and teammate Braiden Jacob.
“Every good thing I'm doing for myself right now isn't for no reason. I do it for a reason and that's because I lost teammate back in December 2018 and I honour him by wearing number 12 in every volleyball team I play on,” he said.
“Because I feel like if he were still alive, we'd be dominating in volleyball right now because he was a talented volleyball player. Not a single volleyball game goes by without me doing it for him because I do it for him all the time.”
Next year, Whitehead is planning on travelling with the Ontario Aboriginal Team to Nova Scotia to compete in the North American Indigenous Games.