Canada Games 2017 mascot Niibin poses with the Torch. (SUPPLIED, Canada Games)
The 2017 Canada Games start on July 28 and run until August 28. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the sporting event, which will see thousands of athletes and tens of thousands of fans converge on Winnipeg.
On June 29, the Canada Games Roly McLenahan Torch will be stopping in Morden.
Eleven local torchbearers will take their turns carrying it down Highway 3 between Road 26 W and Road 27 W.
Dale Ready has been to the Manitoba Summer and Winter Games. He played basketball when they were still part of the Winter Games, and coached track and field and beach volleyball.
Ready has been involved with youth sport for 35 years. A retired teacher, he now serves as executive director for the Morden Activity Centre. “Being able to take part in this event, I feel very lucky and honoured,” he said. “Sports have always been a part of my life and my family’s life.”
Liz Hildebrand has coached soccer (including kindergarten to grade six) for many years. She is an active volunteer within the community, participating in parent council in two schools in Morden and helping in classrooms. Hildebrand was part of the local Winnipeg Blue Bomber Kick-off Run Relay to celebrate the opening of their new stadium.
Along with her volunteering, Hildebrand is an active individual, participating in golf, soccer, running, walking and biking.
Chris Dick’s passion is running, which started while growing up on the farm. Dick is a member of the Manitoba Runner’s Association and is a Run Ambassador for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Run. Dick lives in Carman and is a run club coach at Carman Elementary School.
Hailey Hunter has been involved with sports for her whole life, and is very passionate and loves being able to represent her community the best way she can. She competed in the 2012 Manitoba Games for track and field, placing third in standing long jump and second in 100m.
Hunter plays softball, curling, volleyball, golf, and track and field at her school. She is active in the community, plays at provincial and national softball levels, and strives for greatness in everything she does.
Michael Olotu-Jacob moved to Winkler from Nigeria in 2008. He started as a summer student with Manitoba Hydro in 2010 and is still working there. He has two boys, one aged 3 and the other aged 1.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunities of the Summer Games,” Olotu-Jacob said. “[I’m] very excited and it feels very good. I’ve been practicing by jogging, doing a lot of running.”
Julie Kalinowski is an educator and a great example of a community member in Morden. She is a high school teacher at Morden Collegiate and has worked with the Teen Learning Centre for over 13 years, working with students who don’t suit the schedule of a regular high school.
Kalinowski and her husband have raised three children. Kalinowski helps with the Varsity Girls basketball team and helps assemble graduation every year. She is always willing to tutor students who need help after school and is the loudest cheerer at sporting events.
Krista Hildebrand started with Winkler Junior Rifle when she was nine years old, and has been shooting ever since. She has won Best Female Shooter two years in a row with a .22 calibre rifle. Hildebrand won a gold medal in air pistol at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and drives into Winnipeg on a monthly basis for matches and competitions.
Hildebrand works two part-time jobs and babysits regularly. Going to the Winter Games was the “best experience ever.”
Valerie Delorme is a Special Olympics snowshoer from Altona. She is currently one of seven Manitoban athletes representing Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria later this year.
Glenn Lussier has been named athlete of the year at his school for the past two years. He has qualified for provincial track and field twice, and plays badminton, broom ball, hockey, and soccer. Lussier also refs soccer, and is a respectful individual who is helpful with younger children.
Mack Walske serves as student council president at his school, which allows him to relate to many different groups of students. He plays hockey with a passion, and refs hockey and acts as an umpire during ball season.
Walske loves being busy, and gave his time all winter to help out with an Atom hockey team, expecting no reward.
Growing up in Winkler, there were no girls teams for Karen Doell to play on, so she played with the boys. In 1996, Doell went to the Olympics as part of the softball team. “Only in your wildest dreams can you imagine it, and it’s even better than that,” she said. “Once you’re an Olympian, you’re always an Olympian.”
Doell now works as a physiotherapist at Pembina Valley Physiotherapy.