‘I can’t believe we made it’: Inuvik team celebrate Yukon slo-pitch tournament victory

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A team from the Northwest Territories won the Labor Day Slo-Pitch Tournament in Dawson City, Yukon this weekend.

Barry Jacobson, captain and founder of the Barry Pickers of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, said he was still in shock.

« I’m still getting used to it, for me, » he said, « I just can’t believe we did it. »

The annual slo-pitch tournament draws teams from across the North to gather at Minto Park in Dawson City for round robin games on Friday and Saturday and the playoffs on Sunday.

Jacobson describes his team, which has been together since around 2014, as « middle of the pack » within the local league. This year was the third time they participated in the Dawson tournament.

« It was a great tournament to play and it’s always fun, » he said. « Everybody laughs. »

Barry Jacobson, founder of the Inuvik Barry Pickers slo-pitch team, poses with a trophy the team won at the Labor Day Tournament in Dawson City, Yukon. (Facebook Barry Jacobson)

Jacobson said that at one point over the weekend it started to rain « pretty heavily », forcing a stoppage of a game in which they were leading six nothings.

« Lightning started to happen and [we heard] the thunder approached, » he said. « The organizers announced the game and we had to finish it Sunday morning at 8 a.m.

He said they « barely beat » the team the next day, but managed to pull through.

Tournament organizer Dawn Kisoun said it was the first time in 24 years — at least since she’s been living in Dawson City and attending every Labor Day softball tournament — that Northwest Territories team wins.

Kisoun grew up in Inuvik and is a past president of the Dawson City Slo-pitch Association.

She said Team Alaska usually wins the tournament, but they haven’t played for three years now, since the COVID-19 pandemic. She said it was exciting to see Jacobson’s team win.

« It’s people like this that keep me doing this because they’re having so much fun here, » Kisoun said.

The grand prize was an ounce of gold, plus jackets.

Meanwhile, the Carmacks Hawks, of Carmacks, Yukon, came in second and the Inuvik AJs came in third.

Kisoun said slo-pitch has always been a popular sport in Inuvik, something she attributes to the 24-hour sunlight.

A man poses with a trophy on a rocky beach, in front of a sign that says
Jacobson, captain of the Inuvik slo-pitch team, Barry Pickers, poses in front of the Arctic Ocean with the trophy. (Submitted by Barry Jacobson)

“As kids, we were never home in the summer because the softball field was always there for us to play,” she said. « Our parents always knew where we were – at the ballpark. »

Jacobson took the trophy to the ocean for some photos, to send to Kisoun.

Next year, his team plans to return to the tournament.

« I think we’ll try to bring the same team back with us to Dawson, » he said. « I think most of the people we had are ready to come back, if not all of them. »

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