Bc summer games

July 18,2014(ISN) – For the 2500 B.C. youth between the ages of 11 and 18 who are participating in the

B.C Summer Games, this weekend is to them the equivalent of participating in the

Olympics. The best of the best from all over B.C are competing in 19 sports in venues

throughout the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

The day started very early for the island’s box and field lacrosse teams from Zone

6- Vancouver Island- Central Coast. They were instructed to report to their pickup

location at 4:20am yesterday morning for a 5:20am departure by bus to Nanaimo

where they would report to accreditation and receive everything they needed to

be recognized as an official athlete or coach. They were visibly sleepy and were

accompanied by parents who were very grateful that Tim Horton’s was open to

provide them with coffee at what they perceived to be an ungodly hour.

It was pretty quiet in the parking lot at the Juan De Fuca Library in Colwood. The

lacrosse players had their gear all piled up in the middle of parking lot while the

swimmers across the way were all lined up nicely down the sidewalk like they

would at the top of their lane just before a race. They were organized in a way that

the buses could simply pull up and they could one by one in an orderly fashion

board a bus. You could feel some excitement when the buses turned in off of the

highway as these were not the school buses that these kids were expecting but

beautiful coaches loaded with televisions and wifi to run all of their digital devices.

They were definitely travelling to the games in style. The swimmers ended up

having to leave their perfect line and made their way to the other side of the parking

lot as the buses pulled up by the slightly less organized lacrosse players. A Summer

Games Volunteer who spoke with experience managed three large coaches worth

of athletes with ease and had everyone loaded within minutes. Parents and siblings

waved goodbye as the coaches pulled back onto the highway headed out for their

short trek up the island to Nanaimo.

There is no Olympic style Village in the Nanaimo but the teams are all housed in

schools throughout the city. The accommodations aren’t glamorous but all the

athletes and coaches are in the same boat sleeping in sleeping bags on matt’s on

classroom floors of local schools.

All athletes are required to stay with their team and are not allowed to sleep at

home in their own bed even if they live in Nanaimo. As much as this weekend is

about competing at high levels it is also about making memories and solidifying or

making new friendships. I have spoken with several adults who participated in the

Summer Games as teens and they all said that it was probably one of the best if not

the best memory of their athletic careers.

Athletes are bussed to and from their games, showers and meals. There is plenty

of time for the teams to watch other events throughout the city and cheer on

other teams from their zone. The games committee hosts an event tonight with

a Hollywood theme. This is the chance for teams to intermingle and get to know

people outside of their sport and zone. I am sure Facebook will be on fire tonight as

everyone starts sending friend requests to the people that they have just met.

The Opening Ceremonies were the same format as the Olympic Games. There was

the traditional RCMP officer in ceremonial dress riding a horse leading in a group

of bagpipers. The 8 competing zones of athletes were lead into the park by young

people holding up signs identifying the area they were representing. You could hear

people commenting on the outfits that the athletes were wearing. Each zone was

assigned a different colour and each individual team chose their own travelling

outfits which, were everything from simple to bold and bright.

Local dignitaries were introduced and gave speeches on the importance of sport,

commitment, overcoming obstacles and the hard work it takes to reach your athletic

and life goals. We were welcomed by the local aboriginal community and stood as

a community to sing” Oh Canada” which was sung with power and ease by a local

teen. The crowd of athletes, parents and hundreds of volunteers were entertained

by a professional youth skipping team and laughed while a popular B.C. television

personality tried skipping with the group. There was an original theme song

performed by B.C. teen while the

crowd of athletes and coaches performed a flash mob routine that they had been

instructed to learn before they arrived at the games. It wasn’t pretty but everyone

was up on their feet performing to the best of their abilities and there was a lot of

laughter which I am sure was the entire point.

At the end of the ceremony one of the islands most loved athletes lit the torches of

two groups of young track stars and they all ran a ceremonial lap around the track

officially opening the annual B.C. Summer Games. Let the games begin!!