Glen Gambler will be competing in golf at the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) but in his hometown, it’s his hockey skills that are getting the most attention.
From Wabasca Alberta, the 16-year-old started playing hockey at age three and since then has become an inspiration to many in his community.
“Younger kids look up to me and it really motivates me,” Gambler said. “When I was at provincials this year, one of the little kids came up to and asked me what kind of stick I used because he wanted to get the same thing. He also asked for my autograph.”
The one-time occurrence has not gotten to the head of the humble teenager of the Bigstone Cree Nation who says he gets a lot of support from his parents and grandparents who are his biggest motivators.
“My drive comes from my parents who motivate me most of the time to go to practice,” said Gambler who aspires to go on to play at the NCAA college or university level. “They have taken me to all my hockey tournaments. They love watching me play.”
His father Jason Gambler says the sacrifice he has made for Glen and his other two children has been worth it.
“I’m supportive because I want him to succeed at what he does and for kids from our hometown that look up to him to see him do well,” Jason Gambler said. “He goes and plays all over and lots of kids want to do the same. I hope to inspire other parents to support their kids in sport like we do.”
Since hockey is not one of the 14 sports offered at the Toronto 2017 NAIG this summer, Glen Gambler made the easy decision to compete in golf which he has developed a strong passion and talent for, despite having only played the game for three years.
A golf club that opened in his community three years ago came to his school looking to recruit students interested in picking up the game. He and schoolmate Colton Shaw decided to give it a try.
“After the golf course came to our school, I went there the next day with my friend [Colton],” Gambler said, “I didn’t even have my own golf clubs at the time but I felt attached to the sport right away.”
Shaw and Gambler continue to train together at the golf course most days and will both be competing at their first NAIG this summer—Something Gambler says he is really looking forward to.
“We have been friends since we were five and six-years-old,” said Gambler,’We grew up together and started playing golf together. It will be special to have him with me at the Games.”