June 19th, 2024

Olympian honoured with headdress transfer


By Alexandra Noad - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on June 4, 2024.

Herald photo by Alexandra Noad Apollo Hess receives a headdress from members of the Blood Tribe Chief and Council on Monday at Red Crow College for being the first member from the Blood Tribe to qualify for the Olympics.

The first Blood Tribe member to qualify for the Olympics was recognized for his achievements with a headdress transfer on Monday.

Apollo Hess was named to the Paris 2024 Canadian Olympic team after placing second in the men’s 2024 Olympic swimming trials in Toronto.

Hess says that he always had a feeling that he would make it to the world stage one day.

“I always kinda knew that being a world class athlete was was my calling and I didn’t always know what the path was to get there,” said Hess.

Hess was active in just about every sport imaginable from a young age, whether it be football, hockey, soccer and of course swimming. Becoming a world class athlete was not an easy feet for him. In his early teens he was cut from the tier teams in hockey, so he dove into swimming when he was 14.

“It didn’t matter what your last name was, or who your parents were. All the mattered was that you get your hand on wall before the other person,” said Hess

Hess went on to join the University of Lethbridge swimming team where he would go on to win medals at the U Sports Champonships.

Earlier this year while training, he became very discouraged after several disappointing finishes.

“I’d tell my coaches, I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s going on. I’m doing everything I can. It’s just not working out,” said Hess.

Hess says his encouraged him to try out for the Olympics. He hopes that he can make up some of the debt and make her proud.

“My mom is my hero. That’s kind of no other way to put it. She did everything for me and my brothers growing up. I owe her the world. Hopefully I can partially repay some of my debt to her, but I don’t think I could ever ever fully repay my debt.”

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that statement is very true for Hess. Many community members gathered to honour and show their support for him as he was given a Headdress in a special ceremony.

Maria Russell, member of the Blackfoot council, says that the Blood Tribe supports their youth as much as possible because they are the future.

“We we like to support our community and especially our youth in whatever endeavors they they’d like to. Our children, are our future and in any way that we can support our youth, especially sharing the teachings that we’ve learned through our ancestors,” said Russell.

A headdress represents leadership in the Blackfoot community and Russell says she is excited to see the example Hess will set for children.

“His experience would be so beneficial to a lot of our young people that have, their sights on something greater and just being able to to go forward in a good way,” said Russell.

Hess says that he wants to encourage young kids to chase their dreams no matter what other people think.

“Find what you love doing and do it. And if you have a dream, just chase it and it doesn’t matter what anybody else says or what anybody else thinks,” said Hess.

The Olympic games will be held July 26-Aug. 11, 2024 in Paris, France.

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