Another Greater Trail resident will carry the torch onto the world sporting stage next summer.
Trail Special Olympic organizer and coach Ben Postmus was named to Team Canada as associate coach of the national golf team heading to the 2015 World Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles July 25 to Aug. 2.
Postmus’ first appearance at the World Games also coincides with golf’s inaugural showing, and the Fruitvale resident is thrilled to be one of 32 Canadian coaches attending.
“It’s exciting,” said Postmus. “They run it just like the Olympics, I mean the people who organize the opening ceremonies are the same people who did the Olympic Games.”
The Teck employee coached the B.C. Golf Team at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Game in Vancouver last July, and is familiar with the players on the national team, particularly Kelowna golfer Kyle Grummet, who won gold at the Canada Games.
“I know all the golfers because I’ve been to a couple of nationals now with them, and provincial Games. These guys are not poor golfers, they’re shooting 38-39, a couple over par on tough courses.”
Postmus attended a four-day training camp in Toronto, Ont. on the weekend for Team Canada coaches, athletes, training coaches and support staff in preparation for the Games. In what was both an opportunity to practice and plan, the weekend also kick-started the team with a major pep rally for the world competition.
“We meet our other coaches, and teammates and the rest of Team Canada, have a big group hug, coaching strategies, and meet the support people . . . It’s awesome, because there is so much pump up, always pumping up.”
The Games is the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games, and will attract about 7,000 athletes competing in 26 sports, and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers. While Postmus’ expectations for the athletes is to enjoy the experience, he will go into the Games in sponge-like fashion.
“Eyes wide open, I’m going to suck it all in,” he said. “But also learning. There are coaches from all across Canada in all the sports, so its going to be a huge learning experience for sure, and hopefully bring that back and share it with our eyes-wide-open coaches here in Trail.”
Special Olympics Canada selected Postmus to the team back in August, but the news was not released until last month, when the rest of Team Canada was chosen. As a result, Team Canada will send its largest contingent ever, consisting of 115 athletes, 32 coaches, 11 mission staff, three team managers and a Chef de Mission.
Team Canada’s golf team consists of five golfers, one from Kelowna, one from Manitoba and three from Ontario, that will compete against the world’s best.
“Our Canada golfers will be going up against the U.S., Australia, Spain and England, and Scotland, so some pretty serious golfers . . . Serious for sure, but fun and laughter and great sportsmanship is a big part of it.”
Coaching is almost as challenging and nerve-wracking as playing and, for Postmus, watching the reaction of the athletes is the most rewarding aspect of the job.
“I love watching the athletes reaction whether they are winning or they’re not, the emotions are there, and when the victory is there, they are explosive. There is a lot of consoling there too.”
And if things go awry, his method of keeping despair in check is as unique as it is effective.
“Focus on the good stuff,” added Postmus. “My big thing with these guys, is flush. If it’s a bad shot pull the handle and flush it, don’t think about it, move on to the next one, it’s gone, and you can’t do anything about it.”
Postmus has been a driving force behind Special Olympic sport in Greater Trail, watching the program grow and develop significantly over the years.
This winter, Trail Special O will add basketball to its repertoire which includes downhill skiing, snowshoeing, swimming, ball hockey, bocce, golf, soccer, and five-pin bowling.
At the Games, Team Canada athletes compete in basketball, bocce and golf for the first time on the world stage, in addition to soccer, athletics, swimming, 10-pin bowling, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics and softball.