For the past 26 summers communities across the province have taken turns hosting thousands of seniors to compete in the BC Seniors Games and this year it is Langley’s turn to have the honour. With just over two months to go, the organizing committee feels they are in great shape to welcome the province. Society President Milt Kruger says, “Our full team of Directors and Chairs are in place and working well, we forecast a very successful event in September.”
The one area they are working diligently on is recruiting volunteers to help ensure the success of the games. Volunteers are the lifeblood of an organization such as the Seniors Games and without them it is difficult to imagine the chaos that could ensue.
“We have about 400 volunteers as of the start of June and are looking to recruit a total of about 1,800,” says Milt. “We are now kicking into full volunteer recruitment mode for the next three months to achieve our goal. We had a very successful torch lighting ceremony in Fort Langley at the start of June signifying the countdown to the Games and hope that will spur some interest in volunteering.”
One person who needs no help to spur her interest in the Games is Langley resident Pat, who is an active member of the table tennis community. She has competed at the Seniors Games for more than 10 years, representing Zone Three and her home community with pride.
Pat’s love for the game of table tennis started when she was a student playing in school. She was born in England and grew up in Lancashire, which is where she developed a real affinity for the game. When she was 17 years old her family packed up and moved to Canada, settling in the Lower Mainland in North Vancouver. Pat worked for many years as a paralegal while raising her family before joining them in Langley following her retirement.
Once they settled in, Pat searched around for a place to play table tennis and was disappointed to find there weren’t any. She approached the Langley Seniors Resource Centre and asked if they could start a club there.
“They told me I was welcome to start a club but that I needed to find a table,” recalls Pat. “I would carefully check out the Buy and Sell paper each week for used tables, but every time I found one, it was sold by the time I could get there to check it out. Other members of the centre who wanted to play joined me in putting together a petition, so, finally, the centre bought a table for us.”
From that humble beginning in 2000, the group has grown into the thriving club it is today.
“My husband Jim and I now run the club,” says Pat. “We now have five tables we use every time we play. The club has grown to the point that we now have 72 members who play table tennis, though they don’t all show up every time. We are a fun club and the people really enjoy the laughs and the friendship and they miss it when it is closed for a session. We wear yellow and call ourselves the Mellow Yellows with a Happy Face on the front of our shirts.”
Once the club had been established, Pat heard about the BC Seniors Games and decided to try out to see if she could compete. She claims not to remember the first games she attended, but has attended nearly every Games since. She says, “I’ve gone for about 12 years to all sorts of places. It is always nice to meet so many of the same people year after year at the Games. There is a real camaraderie, a real bond that is formed. The days of competition are long and there can be a lot of time waiting for your next game, so there is a lot of socialization that goes on. One time, I was playing on Vancouver Island and I played against a woman, who I discovered came from the same town as me. We had attended school together at the same time.”
In table tennis, there are both competitive and recreational divisions at the Games, as well as many different age groupings and events for singles, doubles and mixed doubles. All this means there can be well in excess of 300 table tennis players at a single Games.
Pat plays mostly in the recreational division, though in last year’s Games she competed in the mixed doubles as a competitive player. This year, she plans to do the same and is going to be doing so as part of a large home town team.
“Last year we had 16 members of our club compete and they won 32 medals,” she says. “This year, we have 25 competitors going and we are so excited to be hosting the Games. I am really looking forward to playing for my hometown, so I can have lots of family and friends come out to watch. I have a lot of pressure on me because my daughter is taking the week off of work so she can watch me play.”
Pat believes table tennis is a wonderful activity. “In addition to keeping you active and fit I really believe the game keeps you healthy,” she says. “It is a social game and it brings people together. We all become friends and socialize together. One of our members was an avid golfer but once she tried our game she gave up golf to become a full-time table tennis player.”
For more information on signing up to volunteer with the BC Seniors Games go to www.2014bcseniorsgames.org
JULY 2014 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE
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