Trail organizers are rolling out the red carpet for the Canadian Sledge Hockey team that is set to begin its final selection camp in the Silver City Sunday.
“The team is very excited to be coming to Trail and area, because they know that they’re going to be treated like royalty,” says Trail City councilor and organizer Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson.
Despite a busy practice schedule, the host committee has a full slate of extra-curricular activities planned for the 20 players, including a day hike, a Smoke Eaters game, an introduction to bocce at the Gulch Bocce Facility, and a very special cooking lesson with Ferraro Foods’ Gordon McMartin as the head chef.
“They’re going to be making spaghetti and meatballs at the Cominco Arena kitchen and then in the McIntyre Room they will be eating the fruits of their labour. They’re excited about that, so when they go home, wherever they’re from, they’ll know how to cook spaghetti - Trail style,” she said.
The team visited prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the players left as much an impression on the city and its residents as the visit did on them.
“We were up there before the 2010 games, and we had a great time so I can’t wait to get back, to be honest with you,” said team captain Greg Westlake. “I remember being in the Colombo Lodge in Trail and I made a promise that we were going to win the gold medal, and we didn’t come through on that in Vancouver, so I’m still playing, and a lot of the same guys are still around, so we’ll do a lot better in Russia.”
With the support of national team players, coach Mike Mondin of Trail and manager Adam Crockatt, Hockey Canada chose the Silver City as the location for the camp that starts Sunday at the Cominco Arena at 10:15 a.m.
“We’re wanting the public to come and see them . . . people don’t realize how elite these athletes are,” added Gattafoni-Robinson. “They’ve overcome a huge obstacle in life and they’re just fantastic guys, they’re really, really great people, and yes they are something to look up to.”
The players will be giving a sledge hockey demonstration at the Oct. 26 Trail Smoke Eater vs Victoria Grizzly game in addition to helping out with 50/50 draws and interacting with the fans.
Westlake looks forward to the camp and has a message for Greater Trail residents.
“Don’t be shy, everybody on the team is really open about talking about what happened to them . . . I tell everybody at the camps to come talk to the players, there’s definitely a lot to be learned and every guy on the team will be very open and accommodating,” says Westlake.
The public can also dine with Team Canada at the Colombo Lodge on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 364-1968 or 362-5825 for tickets.