A sporty year in review

We look back over the outgoing year and reflect on some of the many achievements performed by our Sooke Athletes.

Rick Smith was inducted as a recognized athlete at the 2013 Softball BC Awards Banquet.

OCTOBER: Surf’s up

Leah Oke in the Longboard competition at the 2013 Queen of the Peak competition in Tofino.

OCTOBER: Rick Smith pitches for the Grey Sox

Two years after hanging up his glove, Sooke-raised softball pitcher received a pleasantly surprising letter in the mail, inducting him into the Softball BC Hall of Fame.

Sooke’s native and former softball pitcher Rick Smith was inducted as a recognized athlete at the Softball BC Awards Banquet that took place in Richmond on October 5 as a part of the annual general meeting and convention.

SEPTEMBER: Len Banner hangs up his glove

Len Banner, the now-former coach/manager of Sooke’s Logger’s fast pitch team, is hanging up his glove. That’s right, after 52 years of either playing or coaching.

His big love for the sport comes from “being part of the team,” he said. “Especially good teams, We were always on good teams, so it made you want to come back.” In recalling his youth, Banner said that between the ages of five and 17, the team he was on won eight championships. “It was a really good time,” he reflects, “and we were fairly successful.”

He’s also got three grandchildren, and he’s ready for the next phase in life.  “Maybe I’ll be coaching in a few more years,” he laughs. We may well see him on the field yet!

JULY: Never say Never

Some people just don’t know when to quit. Stubborn. Also known as persistent. And that can be a good thing.  Still recovering from knee surgery, operated on last October, 60-year-old Melanie Cunningham is training to complete for Team Canada in London’s World Triathlon Age Group Championships, under the Sprint category.

JUNE: Garnet determined to follow her dreams

Soon to graduate from EMCS, Garnet Van Dyck is following her dreams. Since as far back as she can remember, she has wanted to compete in Canada’s Soccer Women’s National Team.

“My biggest goal is to play in the national’s,” she said in conversation.

While she hasn’t arrived (yet), she is well on her way.

MAY: The wiffle and the pickle in Pickleball

You’ve heard of softball, fastball, baseball. Pickleball has nothing to do with these. But have you heard of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. Yes indeed, Pickleball is the happy offspring of the amalgamation of all three. In fact, as the WhatIsPickleball.com website so aptly sums up, “It’s OVERSIZED ping pong!  Played on a badminton-sized court with a tennis-sized net.”

All you’ll need a Whiffle ball that is three inches in diameter, and a wooden paddle for each player that is no longer than 15.5 inches and no wider than eight. Oh, and a net that is 36 inch high and 20 feet long. Pickleball, which originated in 1965 as an all-family game invented by US Congressman Joel Pritchard and a few of his friends, was named after the dog who chased the ball every now and again. His name was, you guessed it, Pickles.

APRIL: Sooke’s own Kurt Horne is one 28 players invited to the Canadian Junior National Team’s spring training camp this month. On April 11, Horne will be heading to Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. This 16-year-old Sooke “south paw” (left-handed batter, left-handed pitcher) is in grade 11 at Edward Milne Community School.

In conversation, Horne said that he’s been playing baseball for 12 years, since he was four years old.

Now, see him in the number 13 jersey when he’s playing with Victoria Eagles, in the BC Premiere, and in number 31 when he’s with Team Canada, in the Jr National League.

MARCH: Martial Artists

Two of Sooke’s martial artists took, Carl Scott and Miller Mason, home three medals at the Tiger Balm International competition, a high level competition for all styles of martial arts held in North Vancouver March 17 and 18.

FEBRUARY: Modelling sportsmanship important for parents

In the mid-day sun on a February Saturday, the Sooke Rebels soccer team played an  intense game against the Bays United.

This game was attended by soccer referee mentor, Teresa Mitrou. From Victoria, Mitrou often dedicates her weekend to refereeing and mentoring.

Mitrou emphasizes how important it is to be supportive of the younger refs. These young referees should be congratulated after every game, not vented to. “If you rag on kid referees, they will stop and get jobs elsewhere,” she warns. It’s challenging work when there are 22 players to manage.

She would also like to remind otherwise-gentle parents, “The day will never come that I’m going to change my call because you’re yelling at me.”

Just as we encourage kids to be good sports and take the losses in stride along with the wins, parents are encouraged to do the same.

Happy new year everyone! May this be your shiniest year yet.