Tight Lines: A summer retrospective

Piecemeal the summer dies, marked by the progressive ending of various sports, first soccer, then swimming, baseball, and finally golf.

Piecemeal the summer dies, marked by the sudden progressive ending of various sports, first soccer, then swimming, baseball, and finally golf.

The end comes sooner for those teams and individuals that didn’t make it beyond regionals, but even the provincial,  national, and world competitions  seem to wrap up earlier than they once did.

Perhaps it is just my age. Time flies by faster than it should, the long, hot days get shorter, grow cooler, and before we know it minor hockey, the Smoke Eaters and Nitehawks take to the ice, drawing us into arenas, into autumn and winter, long before we are ready.

Still, it was a good summer for many teams and individuals, and a quick recap shows Trail athletes excelling on the provincial, national, and world stage:

Trail Martial Arts’ competitors won 17 medals at the national championships, then followed that up with good results at the Tae Kwon Do World Championships in Coventry, Eng. that included bronze medals for Mattias Hoffman and Mary Ann MacLean. A small contingent of Chito Ryu Karate athletes led by Macy Verigin held their own against the province’s best, and Verigin came away with bronze at the provincials. There were impressive swims in the pool from both the Stingrays and Greater Trail Swim Club, where athletes like Eden and Dylan Kormendy achieved unprecedented success on the provincial and national stage. The Rossland Secondary School Royals girls’ soccer team took fourth place and first among public schools in their swan song at the provincial high-school tournament, the Kootenay South U15 Bighorns soccer team captured bronze at the provincial soccer championship,  while the Trail Steelers claimed gold in convincing fashion at the U12 Regional Fastpitch championship at Haley Park.

The AA West Kootenay Diamondbacks and AAA Phillies both made it to the district championship in the Washington State American Legion baseball, while the Trail AM Ford Orioles had a good season, finishing third at the Kelowna Blast baseball tournament, and making it into the playoffs of the B.C. Senior Men’s baseball championships in Victoria, an incredible result for a team of largely home-grown ball players that continue to work and play in the area.

These along with nine deserving citizens honoured with the BC Sports Hero award, and the tremendous results turned in by Greater Trail competitors at the B.C. Seniors Games continue to legitimize Trail’s lofty title as Home of Champions.

But it all ended too soon, no Western B’s or Grand Forks International for the O’s to finish off the season with a bang, to deliver summer’s final mass, and provide fans and athletes with a graceful if not inspiring transition into fall.

Yet, with all endings, come promising if not hopeful beginnings and early indications suggest this could be a banner year for local teams like the Trail Smoke Eaters and Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Both teams are loaded with veterans whose experience should catapult the Smokies into the playoffs, while B.V. will again battle for top spot in the toughest division in the KIJHL.

Yet, the success of many Greater Trail athletes this summer went largely unnoticed by the majority of residents. Save for a passionate handful of volunteers and fans, summer sports seemed hard pressed to attract either to the ball park or soccer pitch, dojo or swimming pool.

Getting people involved is possibly the hardest thing to do for organizers, and attracting fans likely the next most difficult.

So while you still have time,  become a volunteer, or a minor-hockey coach, take in a billet for the Smokies or Nitehawks, get off the couch and go watch a game, and if nothing else thank the volunteers in the Spud Shack or the person selling 50/50 tickets, show some appreciation for those who stand behind the bench, that sell raffle tickets, keep score, sponsor events, or sit on the executive of various sporting organizations. It is because of them, as much as the athletes, that Trail continues to be known as the Home of Champions.