When the Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games gets underway today, Parskville Qualicum Beach and the surrounding areas will be well represented.
The District 69 region will have more than 20 athletes who will be competing in various sports at the 40th sporting extravaganza, which will run Thursday to Sunday.
The athletes who will be there are: Baseball players Anson McGorman (Parksville), Will Fox (Parksville), Ellis Vugteveen (Errington), Ethan Dean (Nanoose Bay); Equestrian — Gracie O’Connel (Parksville); Golf — Gavyn Knight (Parksville), Mathew Grimes (Qualicum Beach); Box Lacrosse — Brenden Jamieson (Parksville); Softball — Cassidy Kellow (Parksville); Synchronized swimming— Sydney Waldie and Pascha Nemlander (Parksville); Triathlon — Luke Hubner (Qualicum Beach); Athletics — Samuel Morrison (Nanoose Bay); Sailing — Joshua Jefers (Nanoose Bay); Soccer — Cameron Basara (Nanoose Bay); Towed Water Sports — Maxwell Jeffery (Nanoose Bay), Tegan Jeffery (Nanoose Bay); Swimming — Lochlan Rogers (Qualicum Beach), Veronica Hall (Parksville); and Swimming Special Olympics — Shayne Blandin (Qualicum Beach), Clara Kodweiss (Qualicum Beach).
The local participants, who are an average of 14 years old, will be representing Zone 6, Vancouver Island-Central Coast.
The games, which started in Penticton in 1978, was conceived by Premier Bill Bennett as a way to bring British Columbians together. Initially, the games included athletes of all ages, but the focus gradually turned toward younger athletes, with the goal of helping them to achieve their potential on their way to higher levels of their sports.
Participants in the BC Games often go on to the next tiers of their sports, competing at the national and international levels.
The percentage of athletes who have gone on from the BC Games to represent the province at the Canada Games is in the high 50s according to BC Summer Games Society president and CEO Kelly Mann.
Swimmer Brent Hayden, who competed at the 1998 BC Games in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, then went on to win medals for Canada in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships, will be speaking to the athletes at the 2018 Opening Ceremonies on Thursday. Other noteworthy alumni of the BC Summer Games that come to Mann’s mind include wrestler Carol Huynh, who won gold for Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics and bronze at the 2012 Olympics; cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2012 and finished fifth in the Tour de France in 2010; and Brett Lawrie, who played in Major League Baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s.
The opening ceremony that will take place today is expected to inspire, delight and entertain. Everyone is invited, and it’s free.
It’s at the Lake Cowichan’s Laketown Ranch, which will welcome country superstar Eric Church to the Sunfest Country MusicFestival in a few weeks’ time.
It’s a great chance to see and enjoy the amenities at the Ranch if you’ve never visited before, and to experience what happens when Cowichan comes out to party. Not to mention a chance to see top talent with no ticket price.
With Shane Koyczan and his band The Short Story Long, Asani, and local dancers, and pipers and drummers, members of the public can join more than 4,500 athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers as everyone enjoys a night to remember.
“Our volunteers have been hard at work for months planning all aspects of the opening ceremonies to create lifetimememories,” said Jennifer Woike, president of Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games.
“To make this a truly community event, the opening ceremony is free for everyone to attend — regardless of their involvement with the Games.”
The event will feature a full-scale athletes parade, so have your cameras and phones ready.
“Laketown Ranch is hosting the opening ceremony, so there is lots of room for the community to come out, take in the entertainment and cheer on the athletes as they enter with their zones,” says Kirsten Schrader, director, ceremonies and special events.
“Entertainment begins at 6 p.m. to help get everyone in the celebration mood before the athletes parade start sat 7 p.m. Asani, from Edmonton, will sing the most memorable version of ‘O Canada’ many people will ever hear.”
NEWS Staff/Black Press