Greater Trail will send a strong contingent of athletes to the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops this weekend
The B.C. Winter Games will attract more than 600 athletes from eight zones across the province, competing in seven sports including floor hockey, figure skating, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, curling, cross-country skiing, and speed skating.
Sheila Hawton will lead the Kootenay Team as chef de mission, while a strong floor hockey squad, the SOBC-Trail Roadrunners, coached by Ben Postmus and Chris Kuchar will compete along with downhill skier Stuart Hawton coached by Darrel Fry, and the SOBC-Trail snowshoe team comprised of William Thatcher and Jake Miller and coached by Luke Thatcher and Jared Munn.
The athletes qualified for the Games last year in Kelowna, and although the snowshoe team is relatively new, Thatcher is happy with the progress.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the athletes perform at the provincials,” said Thatcher. “I was overwhelmed at the districts last year, just how fast they were.”
The snowshoe team engages in a weekly dryland-training session, and practices on snowshoes at Gyro and Montrose Park during the week, as well as race against Montrose Fire Fighters’ finest. Coach Thatcher says he wants to see his team enjoy the experience of the Games, but is also impressed with their dedication this season.
“It’s just their second year starting, and they’ve already made it to provincials, so you can’t ask for anything more as a coach,” said Thatcher. “I think they will compete very well. These guys have got faster, their times have just downhilled, they’ve already lost over 10 seconds in their sprints. They were pretty quick last year, but they are even quicker this year, so that’s nice to see.”
Miller is most looking forward to the competition. A sprint specialist, the Trail native will compete in the 200 and 400-metre races.
“I’m looking forward to going to Kamloops,” said Miller. “I think I’ll do pretty good, I’ve been working hard and it should be a great experience.”
The floor hockey squad played in a tournament in Abbotsford in January and forward Bob Lattanzio says it was a good warm up for the Winter Games.
“It helped, we lost two and won one, but it was a lot of fun and we learned a lot.”
The veteran player has played on the floor-hockey team for four years, and is excited to compete in his first SOBC Winter Games.
“I am most looking forward to staying on campus,” he said. “I think we’ll do pretty good, and hopefully win a medal.”
The floor hockey team has been going at it hard since November, practicing every Tuesday at the Columbia-Kootenay Learning Centre gym, and playing teams as diverse as a group of media darlings from EZ Rock and the Trail Times, to no-nonsense RCMP and Fire Fighters, as well as stiff competition from hockey teams Trail Smoke Eaters, Selkirk College Saints, and Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
Adam Bateman, who turns 31 today, has been playing for three seasons and is all business when it comes to floor hockey and achieving success on the hardwood.
“I think we’ll do pretty good. I went to Abbotsford with the team, scored a few goals and had some fun but I’m the power forward, I have to stand in front of the net and get the garbage.”
The always dynamic Kayleigh Postmus is confident in her team’s abilities and while she is thrilled about the trip and seeing athletes from all over B.C., her eyes are firmly set on gold when it comes to the Games.
“I’m going to learn a lot of skills there about defence, and hopefully be very competitive, and let’s hope we win the gold,” says Postmus. “Our team has to go out there and work hard together as a team, defence, offence, and we have to support Gary our goaltender. I’m a little bit nervous, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”