With Rick The Bear Wile
This December marks my 40 year milestone of living and working in sportswriting and reporting in the Kamloops marketplace. Life in the Loops is an experience, so I am serving up a helping of some of the greatest sports events I have witnessed over four decades.
No easy task but the thought came up after the 25th anniversary soiree to commemorate Kamloops hosting the 1993 Canada Summer Games and this week’s announcement of the city hosting the 55+ Canada Games in 2020. The 1993 event is categorically number one on my list because of the many legacies it provided. From volunteers to athletes, administrators and officials, to sponsors and supporters the games sent a message to the entire country that Kamloops had arrived on the national stage.
Yesterday, Thursday, August 22nd marked the closing of the Games and I vividly remember shedding a few tears during a live broadcsst of the closing ceremonies, not because the Games were over but out of pure joy of seeing a great sports community stand out. The pride factor was second to none, the events were well supported, and every night at Riverside Park was a party, complete with a lazer show.
The 1995 Memorial Cup, 1996 Brier and the 1998 World Curling Championships rank 2nd, 3rd and 4th followed closely by the 2006 World Jr Championship, the Women’s 2014 Four Nations Cup and the 2016 World Women’s Championship rounding out my Super 7.
There are several other events that stood out in Canadian university and college sports championships in soccer and volleyball, basketball as well as the Canadian Youth Soccer Nationals. They were all memorable as were the World Kickboxing titles won by Tom Laroche and Mark Hermiston during the heyday of the White Crane Gung-Foo School, the 1988 Western Canadian Sr Baseball Championship won by the Sandpipers against Regina, 30 years ago this month as a matter of fact. They all produced so many thrills and spills for Kamloops sports fans, right on their own doorstep.
The Blazers had so many hilite reel moments. Their game 7 WHL title clinching win against Regina in 1984 was a barometer for excitement but then along came clinchers against Medicine Hat in 1986 followed by the 1992 and 94 clinchers against Saskatoon, 95 against Brandon after coming home down 3-2 in the best of 7. and the 1995 Memorial Cup clincher against Detroit.
They were all specific moments in time during a Kamloops rise to sports excellence but when it comes to that ONE EVENT that stands out above everything, that puts a city in a Canadian penthouse for sports recognition, it was the 1993 Canada Summer Games.
To this day. It still ranks as our shining moment.
It was great reconnecting with the slightly older faces at the 25 year celebration, but you could sense the pride of everyone on hand even minus close to 5,000 athletes, officials and volunteers involved in Kamloops most significant sporting endeavour.