Every four years, the top young athletes from all 10 provinces across Canada gather to participate in the summer-installment of the Canada Games. This year, the games are being held in Winnipeg, Manitoba-it is the second time the Canada Games have been held in the nation’s centre-most province-from July 28th-August 13th. Over the course of the two-week event, thousands of top-tier youth athletes will go for gold in 16 different sports. Team B.C. will field 354 athletes. A majority (57%) of the athletes in this year’s games are B.C. Games alumni, so representing their province is not new to many of them.
— Team BC (@GoTeamBC) July 28, 2017
Team B.C. has always been the best western province in this competition, but have failed to take top honors, always falling short in the medal count behind either Team Quebec, Team Ontario or both. They were closest to glory in that 1969 contest hosted by Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, when they came within five medals of winning the first Canada Summer Games.
The fate of Team B.C. rests in the talents of 42 athletes from Surrey B.C. who will try and push the province past their eastern rivals. Surrey is fielding the 2nd-most athletes for Team B.C. with Victoria sending 51 competitors to Winnipeg. Surrey’s contingent is as strong as it’s ever been; the city’s lineup is made up of award winners, all-team selections, provincial champions, national champions, and most importantly, extreme determination and heart.
All 354 athletes aren’t striving to become professional athletes, but the ones that do hope to become as success as famous B.C. athletes such as former NBA player and Saanich, B.C. resident, Steve Nash, former American League MVP and New Westminster, B.C. native, Justin Morneau, Burnaby’s olympic women’s soccer medalist Christine Sinclair and so many others.
To get to that level it takes years of hard work and dedication. For Surrey Knights Swim Club’s 15-year-old swimmer, Scott Pfeiffer, and 13-year-old S-10 para swimmer, Arianna Hunsicker, they are ready to put all of that hard work on display in front of the grand crowds at the Canada Summer Games. “I’ve been putting in extra hours this week.” Scott told me in the middle of his his final month before the games. Scott went onto say, “Since I found out I was eligible for this year’s Canada Games, it’s all I’ve been thinking about every second.” In Arianna’s case, she’s grown tremendously as a swimmer, “I remember when I started, I could barely do the [butter]fly, I could barely swim.” While she has grown as a swimmer, she’s being incredibly modest. Her coach, Reg Shaw, believes, “Arianna is a hidden underdog that no one really has seen. She’s preformed extremely well and I think that people don’t realize how good she’s going to be.” For his age, Scott’s approach to swimming is beyond his years. He is a realist in terms of personal expectations and studies the sports diligently by watching top-class swimmers to help perfect his stroke. Coach Shaw said, “Scott is a fierce competitor and a real student of the sport”
The intensity of competition for these athletes is clear. Team B.C. wrestling coach, John Pineda, had high praise for his two Surrey wrestlers, soon-to-be 11th-grader and 98kg weight-class member, Arjot Gill and his soon-to-be 10th-grader in the 60kg weight class, Karan Gill-no relation. “What I’ve seen from the two of them, especially these two kids, very promising, very young. Both kids have been working really hard and I think they’re the best in the country. In three to four years from now, you’ll see many more titles coming from them.” Arjot is a Cadet National Champion while Karan placed 2nd at the past nationals compitition and this is just the beginning of their long careers. Arjot is not only leading the way with his success on the mat, but Coach Pineda spoke highly of Arjot’s leadership as a teammate despite being younger than many of the other members of the team. And, even though he’s 38kg Arjot’s junior, Coach Pineada said of Karan, “If I’m gonna pick one athlete on this team who has the heart and passion and desire, it’s Karan. He has what you can’t teach and in wrestling we call that fighting spirit. He’s like a dog on a bone when he’s out there wrestling.”
Other stars like softball player and newly-named member of the Canadian Junior National Team, Danielle de Ruiter, 2017 BC High School Fraser Valley Volleyball Champion and MVP, Danika Cowie, 5000m runner and 4-time NAIA All-American, Jesse Hooton, and elite baseball pitcher, Lukas Frers, who has thrown four no-hitters in the last year alone, are just a few of the other fine young athletes that will be giving it their all over the next two weeks for Surrey and B.C.
If you won’t be able to make it out to Winnipeg to cheer on Team B.C. and the strong Surrey crew, n0 worries; TSN and the Canada Summer Games webstream have you covered. The schedules for the TSN broadcasts and the link to the webcast schedule can be found here. Whether you can make it out or you won’t be able to watch the future athletic stars of Surrey compete in the next two weeks, still make sure to cheer them on whenever and however you can. For updates on everything Team B.C. and the Canada Summer Games, you can follow them on Twitter at @GoTeamBC and @CanadaGames