If Wednesday’s pep rally was any indication, Team Yukon is on track to winning its third Spirit of the Games Award at the 2008 Canada 55+ Games.
Although the Games are not taking place until August 26 through to the August 31, and are being held at the opposite end of the country in Dieppe, New Brunswick, excitement was in the air at the rally held on the Yukon College campus.
“The pep rally is a culmination of putting everything together, the final numbers for Team Yukon, and giving them all their information and wish them well on their way,” said Bill Simpson, president of ElderActive Recreation Association and a candlepin bowling competitor.
“We’ve only got about two or three hundred members of the ERA and over a quarter of them are going. So we’re quite happy with the turnout.
“They don’t have fivepin bowling on the East Coast, they candlepin bowl,” continued Simpson, speaking of his event.
“I’ve never done it before. I’m a fivepin bowler, so I’m going to give it a try. A lot of us are into sports that they don’t have, (but) if they don’t have what we normally play we just pick something else and go down and have fun anyway.”
The festivities included entertainment by guitarist Hank Karr and some dance numbers by the Yukon Golden Girls.
Speeches were given by Minister Glenn Hart, Simpson and the event’s master of ceremonies was Ron McFayden.
Between practice cheers, Team Yukon Flag bearers Betty Sutton and Ken Burke, and banner carriers Margaret Dunn and Judy Lightning, circled the crowd, visibly proud to represent their team.
“Everyone wanted to be with Team Yukon because we were so noisy,” explained Margaret Dunn, who was a member of first team to compete in the Games in 1998 and won two silver medals in swimming in 2006.
“We had a good time. The swimmers came home with most of the medals; we came home with 28 medals I think and the swimmers brought home 18.
“And this last one in Portage la Prairie, the swimmers brought home 22 medals and there was seven swimmers.
“It’s a lot fun and you meet a lot of nice people, but it gets really competitive,” added Dunn. “We are not the elite athletes, but we are athletes and we enjoy it.”
Team Yukon is comprised of 93 members, 10 of whom are between 80 and 89 years old.
The team has co-ordinated fundraising efforts to help pay for the trip.
The members have been selling raffle tickets for $10 at various locations in Whitehorse and there is a $10,000 first prize and $3,000 and $2,000 second and third place prizes.
Tickets are still available and the draw will take place at the end of October.
“The odds are pretty good because we’ve only printed 3,500 tickets — it’s better than the lotteries,” said Dunn.
Team Yukon won the Spirit of the Games Award in the last Games in 2006 as well as at the 1998 Games, the first year the team competed.
There are roughly 20 events at the Games, ranging from Scrabble to hockey.
For information on the Games visit www.canada55plusgames.com.