Growing up in the North, my family didn't have much money (not enough for me to play hockey, anyways), so at first I was put in cheap sports like soccer and track and field (luckily, I was fortunate enough to score some sweet 2nd-hand ski gear at the annual YK Ski Club Snow Show, and so was eventually put in skiing at age 7).
Soccer was my main sport for quite some time, and I like to think of myself as having been one of the more decent players playing on gym floors around the 'Knife (outdoor in YK is predominantly bunk, with very few fields used by too many people resulting in a lot of dirt and hummocks - and so indoor soccer rules the North). The indoor soccer years of my generation were dominated by a set of brawny Inuit twins by the names of Sam and Joe Ashoona. These guys were untouchable; they could run faster and shoot harder than anyone, and could win any battle. Their dad, Bob Kussy, was an exuberant coach and everything-soccer maniac. Amazingly, a few of the teams that I played on were crafty enough to employ tactics to shut down Sam and Joe to pull out big wins in Aurora Minor Soccer League and in Super Soccer tournaments.
Crafty U-11 boys Lime Green, getting the job done. Anyone from Yellowknife would find this picture pure gold (sorry Aaron for ripping it off your FB), as it contains 3 Aitkens, and many other noteworthy YKers, including Yellowknife's Snowboarder extraordinaire, and my good buddy, Andrew Matthews (bottom row, laying down). I am center on the top row. And yes, I was a shrimp.
Today, the Ashoona's run an art studio (check it out here or check out their Facebook page here). I am proud to announce that they are on board as one of my major sponsors, providing me with traditional artwork to use as gifts for my big sponsors! Me and the Ashoona's all go way back, and fought it out countless times on the soccer court. They taught me humility on the soccer floor and inspired me to play harder and to work hard at becoming a better soccer player and athlete. Although my competitive soccer days are long gone, the skills and lessons I learned are invaluable for my ski career. The Ashoona's support of my Olympic aspirations is a fine example of the great community that is backing me in the pursuit of my goals.
Team Ashoona. Joe (far right), has become one of the best Inuit carvers in the world.
"Dancing Bear" - by Joe Ashoona