Overheard at this year’s BC Senior Games, at the Langley Events Centre:
A man in the showers, whistling a great rendition of “The Way We Were,” a Barbra Streisand hit from 1973. “Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty water-coloured memories of the way we were….”
For senior athletes who have a long history in their sport, there may be a touch of melancholy in memories of their faded feats of strength, speed, endurance or skill — but I came to realize in my first time as a competitor that the games are more about “The Way We Are” or “The Way We Can Be,” if we stay active and involved.
You might not have the moves of a 20-year-old but you adjust your goals and keep moving — and if you get to the point where you can’t move very much, there are less stressful activities that focus on mental skills and socializing, such as card games and one act plays.
I was there as a member of the Zone 3 men’s 60+ soccer team and I was impressed by the skills and effort levels shown. Five games in four days is a punishing schedule for any age of player — but with the help of liniment, tape, substitutions and ice packs, the players kept up the pace.
We ended up a goal short in the bronze medal match, though our best effort might have been the opening match on Sept. 9, against North Van’s Columbus. This team has a long history of playing together and their roster included Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer and former Vancouver Whitecap, Sam Lenarduzzi. We tied them 2-2 and they went on to win the gold medal match.
Our fourth-place finish left us embracing the Games’ slogan, “Everyone Wins.”
It was a similar story for Hope’s healthy contingent of eight card players that took part in whist and cribbage.
“None of us won any medals,” said Carol Pringle at the Canyon Golden Agers’ club on Monday. “It was all fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh. That’s the first time we haven’t won something!”
Cribbage players included Bob Enns, Lou Granger, Jean Nazarchuk, Mavis Wannamaker, Art Young and Pringle. Wendy Middleton and Louise Marlatt paired up for whist.
Other Hope residents who took part but finished out of the medals were Ben Taylor, who finished fourth in badminton, Debbie Pettit in equestrian and Roy Chou and Kats Sunada in golf.
Hope medals came from golf and dragon boat.
Trish and Dale Kjemhus have been involved with the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Club at Harrison Lake for almost a decade and this was Trish’s fourth trip to the Senior Games and Dale’s third. Dale was a paddler for the bronze-medal mixed team at the Games and Trish was alternating between calling and paddling for the team — as well as calling for the Cultus Lake Dragon Flyers women’s team, which won gold.
A caller sets the paddling rates for the boat, explained Trish.
“At the start, you have a faster pace, then you settle into a race rate and finish with more power.
“You’re not allowed to use any amplification. You just yell,” she added. “By the end of the day (four races), I have quite a deep voice.”
Trish also uses a drum at the end, for emphasis.
The races were held in the secondary arm of the Fraser River at Glover Road in Fort Langley and the changes in tidal flows and river currents gave crazy variations in heat times, said Dale.
“We had one race where it was our worst time ever!” he said.
A team might have won their heat… but when its time was matched beside a team that paddled in better currents, the comparison wasn’t equitable. This was straightened up on the second day, said the couple.
Golfing in the women’s 75-79 class, Dodie Schiefermeier earned a silver medal for her second low gross of 207 on 36 holes. This was her third time at the games and she now has the trifecta of medals.
“My first time was a bronze, then a gold,” said Schiefermeier.
Jimmy Toy was the young buck in the 80+ category, having turned 80 on Sept. 5. This was his first year at that level — which he says is the final age division.
The 12-handicapper shot 88 at Langley’s Pagoda course and 86 at Newlands to lead the group by five strokes and capture another gold medal.
After Monday’s photo shoot and interview, Toy raced off to help paint the houses into the curling rink ice. He said he likes to switch to the indoor game in the winter, to keep active (and dry) and enjoy the socializing.
The Langley BC Senior Games were the last ones under that banner. Next year, they will be branded as the 55+ BC Games in North Vancouver.