Summer ends with a month of ‘August’ performances

As the mornings grow colder, the leaves turn, and daylight hours ebb, the return to school makes it official - the onset of autumn is upon us.

As the mornings grow colder, the leaves turn, and daylight hours ebb, the return to school makes it official – the onset of autumn is upon us.

For many, it means the transition from baseball diamonds to hockey rinks. But before we rush headlong into hockey season, we should take a moment and look back on a month that was in the annals of Trail sport, simply incredible – a tribute to August.

The hype had been building for months and when the B.C. Seniors Games descended upon Trail, Nelson and Castlegar, organizers, participants and volunteers hit the ground running.

Close to 3,000 athletes from across B.C. and almost as many volunteers pulled off arguably the most successful event ever to hit the Kootenays.

Not only did they manage to find them all accommodations but  the majority of events went off without delay or incident.

Even more impressive, organizers and volunteers miraculously fed 2,700 athletes at the Castlegar Rec Complex in one night; maybe not Biblical loaves and fish type stuff but pretty damn close.

It was also the best performance from a West Kootenay contingent at any games. Close to 500 Zone 6  seniors participated making it the largest contingent but it’s also a tribute to the athletic heritage of the region, the first-class facilities and of course the desire and willingness of seniors to compete.

But the games weren’t all about competition. The legacy left by the Games is more about organization and volunteerism, and the individuals who ran madly about ensuring every event ran smoothly. Congratulations, you pulled off an amazing show.

August also brought unprecedented success in the pool by the Trail Stingrays swimming and diving clubs. The swim team won almost every meet it entered including the regionals in Castlegar.

At the provincial championships, the diving team’s seven divers won 14 medals and the swim team, five; with Rossland’s Samme Beatson swimming to a silver and two bronze.

But one of the most inspiring performances by an individual athlete has to go to Dallas Cain, who placed 18th in the Ironman Canada Triathlon in Penticton.

It was an amazing accomplishment just to finish the race. In pounding heat and unbearable conditions many didn’t, but for those that did, the superhuman feat left the rest of us mere mortals to shake our heads and say, “Wow” – and then ask, “Are you crazy?”

As for teams, the best performance has to go to the AM Ford Trail Orioles as they captured the Western Canada Championship at Butler Park at the end of August.

After losing to Saskatchewan, the O’s chances of playing in Sunday’s final looked bleak at best. But when Team B.C. upset the flatlanders, it left a small crack in the door to the final and the Orioles bust it open.

In a must-win game, they shutout the favoured Manitobans, 1-0, to secure a one game winner-takes-all final match up.

Most people know they won that one too. But if I had to choose a single moment that epitomized the grit and determination of the Orioles team it would be the ‘blocked plate’ play.

It unfolded in the late innings of the final game with the O’s leading by a tenuous 4-3 margin.

Manitoba was up to bat with the tying run on second when the batter lined a single to right field. As the Manitoba player rounded third to score, the O’s right fielder gunned it home.

Catcher Kyle Mace lowered his shoulder and knocked the speedy runner half way back to third base. Mace then caught the ball and tagged the runner for the final out of the inning to preserve the victory.

Another fine example of the superb qualities of Greater Trail athletes, organizers and volunteers: an unfailing combination of intelligence, grit, determination, commitment,  skill – and a healthy dose of crazy.