‘The Beast’ is headed to the North American Indigenous Games

Zoey the Beast Collinson smiles at the Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls practice. Photo: Natasha Collinson.
Zoey the Beast Collinson smiles at the Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls practice. Photo: Natasha Collinson.
Zoey the Beast Collinson smiles at the Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls practice.
Photo: Natasha Collinson.

The Collinson family are no strangers to the basketball court. Their athletic builds, high spirits and their keen interest make them quintessential sports enthusiasts.

Natasha Collinson played basketball in her youth and is now coaching and assisting the Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls team in their drive towards the championships at the Jr. All Native in Kelowna this March. Collinson is no stranger to sitting on the basketball sidelines supporting her family in their hoop dreams. Tymeko, nine, has shown interest in playing and can be seen practicing alongside her sisters and family, and Lakye, six, loves to practice her dribbling. Natasha’s son Jhett has been playing since he was 10 years but is currently recovering from an injury and husband Wade, has been playing basketball for over 30 years and today is coaching the Jr. Girls team.

“We are probably here practicing five or six times a week for two hours at a time once basketball season starts,” says Natasha.

The Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls are on the court pounding lay-up drills and Collinson stresses the importance of preventing injury during practice and games.

“Make sure you warm up your body by running or riding the bike,” she reminds the team, adding that their warmups are usually followed by stretching for 10-15 minutes. Collison is diligent in making sure the young players don’t get injured.

“Even landing right” is important Natasha Collinson stresses as injuries to the knees, ACL, MCL and meniscus, and ankles can be prevented by practicing jumps and landing properly. Landing softly is a learned skill and always something to be mindful of while in the heat of the game, along with the other skills needed to play safely while on the hardwood.

Watching Zoey Collinson practice with the team you notice how she is always smiling and talking with her fellow team mates. She is not unlike the others but you do see how leadership follows her on the court whether she is running a drill or passing the ball to her team mates.

Zoey Collinson has been playing basketball since she was eight. Now at 12, she says playing with the Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls team “is fun” and that she gets to develop close relationships with her team mates, some who are her best friends; Stacey Edinger, Kalei McDonald and Ryleigh Brennan.

Zoey’s skill set is such that she tried out for a place on Team BC’s basketball team this past December. This is her first time trying out and she learned the bittersweet reality of winning and losing in competitive sports.

“It was fun because I got to meet new people,” in Kamloops at the Thompson Rivers University gymnasium. But it was also “nerve wracking” she says, because “I didn’t want to get cut”.

Zoey Collinson; a Skidegate Saints Jr. Girls point guard, was chosen in round one of province wide try outs to play for Team BC. As point guard, she is responsible for running the ball up the court for the team. Zoey smiles widely and her eyes shine brightly when asked about her new team membership and says she is “excited to play” at the provincial level.

As part of Team BC, Zoey will be heading to the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto, Ontario from July 16-23, 2017. Her experience so far has taught her to “work with others” and also to acknowledge that “I won’t always win”, and “to be prepared” for all situations.

“I’m really excited about going to the North American Indigenous Games,” exclaims Zoey ‘The Beast’ Collinson, beaming as her eyes dart towards the practice on court and like a released caged animal she bounds back to the court when the interview is concluded.

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