Posted on October 24, 2011 by Tia Lalani

The basketball player was recognized for his athletic accomplishments and honoured as a finalist for an Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award.

By Petra Cegielny

On September 23, Augustana Vikings Basketball player Michael Swampy was recognized for his athletic accomplishments and honoured as one of three finalists for an Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award (AAYAA). The awards gala took place in Edmonton’s Winspear Centre and was an evening filled with music, dance, videos and presentations serving to recognize achievements of Aboriginal youth from across Alberta.

Twelve awards were presented in a variety of categories, including Métis or Inuit Culture & Heritage, First Nations Culture & Heritage, as well as junior and senior awards for Academic Achievement, Athletic Achievement, Career Advancement, Community Leadership and Walking the Red Road. These awards encourage excellence while creating positive new role models for young people throughout the province. Michael Swampy, a member of the Samson Cree Nation and 6’2” point guard on Augustana’s Men’s Basketball team was the youngest finalist and only male in the Senior Athletic Achievement category.

Several youths are nominated per category and, although he did not win, Michael shared that the awards show was awesome. “(Being a finalist) is great! It looks good on paper, definitely! It made me feel proud and it’s great for my family to see that I’m achieving,” says Michael. “Not too many people from Aboriginal communities are able to achieve such goals as I have and to be a role model for younger children.” As the youngest of six siblings, Michael admits to having plenty of nieces and nephews who look up to him.

Michael describes being a member of the Vikings Basketball Team as a lot of fun. “Everyone gets along with each other and it’s been an awesome experience,” he enthuses. “We all bond with each other after practice and hang out with each other off the court. All the teammates are like my family now.” Michael hopes to lead the team to playoffs this year. “All I really want to do is win games and go into playoffs.”

Nominees for Athletic Achievement are youth who excel in athletics either individually or as part of a team, have demonstrated a positive attitude, work ethic and healthy lifestyle, have helped raise awareness of the benefits of participating in sport and received sports-related awards or recognition.

“Michael is so deserving of this recognition,” says Vikings coach Dave Drabiuk. “On any team, in any sport, those who can walk their talk and achieve success are respected unconditionally. Michael has earned the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches for his approach to training and competition. He’s a great guy who works hard and is a fierce competitor. Away from the practice floor, he is a super role model for any youth and has a great sense of humour and a laid-back style that endears him to everyone. Our basketball program is very proud of Michael’s nomination, as it speaks to his strength of character, which we have all witnessed firsthand. Seeing him recognized was a proud moment for all of us.”

Michael encourages prospective student-athletes from his community to keep trying to reach their goals. “Keep motivating yourself to push to the next level,” he says seriously. “Basketball pushed me. School came because of basketball. So, those days when I didn’t want to study, the reason why I’m studying is so I can keep playing sports, so that I can have high grades, so that I can make my family proud.”

The Alberta Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards is an annual celebration. For more information about the awards, including pictures of this year’s event, go to

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