Basketball player Carter Yellow Horn represented Strathmore as a part of Team Alberta U19 at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax, and over the weekend he and the team took home the gold medal.
"I think we're the first Alberta team to ever take home the gold for basketball, so being a part of history, it was pretty awesome to be a part of it," Yellow Horn said.
Yellow Horn had to sit out the first two games of the tournament due to being sick, but once he was on the court, he made his presence felt. In his first game back against B.C he said he went 3/5 on three-pointers and also picked up a couple of assists and rebounds. In the finals against Minnesota Yellow Horn said offense was a struggle for him, but he more than made up for it with ferocious play on defense.
"I put a stop to their star player, that guy was scoring 25-30+ points every other game and I kept him to one point in that game. I just stuck on him the entire time, roughed him up a little bit, it got really scrappy down there."
Despite the offensive struggles Yellow Horn said he kept fighting because you can help the team in other ways besides just scoring and you have to do whatever it takes to get the gold.
"My team needs me to guard their best player, so I do it. I'm going to try my hardest to compete to do whatever they need. Defense is probably the greatest equalizer when it comes to a game."
Yellow Horn said he had several supporters watching back in Strathmore, and even though they weren't in Halifax with him he felt the support.
"It definitely added a great motivation to play harder, give it my all out there. My mom woke up at 5:00 a.m. just to watch me live."
Many of the players on Team Alberta are from Kainai Nation, so they held a ceremony to celebrate the team's win. Yellow Horn said it was his first time being celebrated like that and it was a special moment.
'It was awesome, all the elders were there, the dances, the drumming, it was a really good experience."
Yellow Horn plays for his brother Channer to carry his legacy, as he passed away last year. Yellow Horn hopes he made his brother proud through the gold medal and said he worked as hard as he could to make sure he upheld Channer's memory.
"At the end of the game it brought me to tears knowing that I accomplished such a thing that he'd be proud of. It just means a lot to me and my family and being able to represent Channer and our last name, it's just nice being able to remember him that way."
Channer was a huge part of Carter's life; beyond helping Carter grow as a basketball player, Carter said they spent just about every day together.
"He always came to my games, definitely my #1 supporter, I do miss him. Every day after school, he'd just be on the couch and then we'd talk for a couple of hours, watch TV, whether it's about basketball or whatever else. He was always there, and it means a lot that I got to take a medal home for him."
"We'd actually go the George Freeman gym a lot, put up hundreds of shots a day together."
Beyond basketball, Yellow Horn enjoyed exploring Halifax in his free time. He liked it so much he's even considering applying for St. Mary's University in Halifax. In the meantime, he'll now prepare for more basketball, as an Indigenous provincial tournament is coming up and he'll soon be facing off against several of his Team Alberta teammates.
The next NAIG will be hosted in Calgary in 2027.
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