Vernon’s Landon Currie (front) will be playing for B.C. in men’s indoor volleyball at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. (photo submitted)

North Okanagan athletes primed for Canada Games

Four athletes, one coach representing region in Winnipeg

Canada’s largest multi-sport event begins today in Winnipeg.

The Canada Summer Games feature 16 sports, over 250 events and a major cultural festival. More than 4,000 athletes and coaches will take part.

The Games wrap up Aug. 13.

Meet the four athletes and coach from the North Okanagan, proudly representing their hometowns and province:

Landon Currie, Vernon, men’s volleyball

Currie, a libero, just helped Team B.C. finish seventh by stopping Team USA White at the 24-team U.S. High Performance Championships in Fort Lauderdale.

B.C. went 4-1 in pool play with 3-1 wins over Saskatchewan, Alberta and Team USA Selects, a 3-0 blanking of USA Youth Blue and a 3-1 loss to South California. They lost 3-0 to North California and 3-1 to Pennsylvania in the playoffs.

Currie, who turns 18 in October, made Team B.C. for the third straight year. He was named to the all-star game at UBC for Team Black and was honoured in the Vancouver Province’s Top-15 High School Players.

“I was pretty surprised to be named because liberos don’t usually get recognized,” said Currie, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound acrobatic defensive specialist out of the Fulton Maroons program.

An all-star baseball player with the Vernon 18U Canadians, Currie will play for the Thompson Rivers WolfPack volleyball team this fall on a scholarship. He will study business.

He loves head coach Brad Hudson’s calm approach with Team B.C. and is stoked about the uber-talented lineup.

“I’m really close to most of the guys I’ve been playing with for three years,” said Currie, who works part-time at his parents’ Tim Hortons locations. “We have a lot of height except for me and we’re really athletic. We built each other up by being really positive.

“Coltyn Liu (Van Tech Talismen) was named the top senior player by The Province and he leads by example on the left side.”

Currie hopes to use the Canada Summer Games as preparation for the upcoming university season. He sparkled in three tryout sessions in a field of 70 at UBC.

“At tryouts, I was trying to be really vocal and be a leader. I was digging pretty good and the coaches really push you and I thrive on that pressure. I definitely like to learn from the veterans and I will watch and listen from the older players at TRU.”

Men’s volleyball takes place the second week of the Games.

Trinity Hansma, Armstrong, women’s athletics

The 16-year-old Pleasant Valley Secondary student will spend most of August in Manitoba.

She’ll compete for B.C. at the Canada Games in Winnipeg in high jump, return home for a few days, then head to Brandon for the Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field Championships.

Hansma has already been east this summer, finishing sixth in high jump in the U20 division at the Canadian championships in Ottawa with a leap of 1.65 metres. The top-two finishers jumped 1.77m.

“My best jump is 1.70 and my goal in Winnipeg is to jump at least that or higher,” said Hansma, who has participated in the B.C. Summer Games. “Canada Summer Games is a multi-sport event on a much bigger level.

“I’m very excited because I like to compete.”

Hansma is the Okanagan Valley record holder for both junior and senior high jump. She won the event at the Jack Brow Meet in Kelowna in July with a leap of 1.65m.

The high jump competition for women is slated for Tuesday.

Mackenzie Horst, Vernon, women’s basketball

Horst went to tryouts for the B.C. women’s Canada Games basketball team in Burnaby determined to show the coaches she wanted a spot on the team.

Mission accomplished.

Horst, a six-foot-one forward, played her hardest for the coaches at the camp in March, then had to wait a couple of weeks – a couple of LONG weeks – to see if she made the club.

“When I found out, I was super happy,” said Horst, prior to the team’s departure for Winnipeg.

A member of the Vernon Panthers, who helped the team finish with a 35-2 record this past season, winning a silver medal at provincials, Horst will be the smallest of B.C.’s large forward crew.

“Everyone else is six-two to six-five,” said Horst, 17, going into Grade 12 at VSS. “We have an opportunity to use that strength to get into a medal game.”

B.C. opens up the tournament Saturday against Newfoundland/Labrador.

“Our main goal is definitely gold,” said Horst.

Carter Morris, Vernon, men’s baseball

The pressure will be on Morris and teammates to defend the gold medal won by B.C. in 2013 in Sherbrooke, Que.

Morris is a right-handed starting pitcher who will likely get one start as the team plays a double round-robin against Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec before placement games. B.C. is guaranteed eight games in Winnipeg.

“I’ve done the B.C. Games before (2016, Abbotsford) but I’m looking forward to this experience,” said Morris, 15, going into Grade 11 at W.L. Seaton Secondary. “The athletes will be treated very well in Winnipeg.”

Morris earned his spot in the starting rotation throwing a perfect inning during a tryout for Team B.C. in Surrey. He struck out a batter and induced two ground ball outs. Then, it was a waiting game to find out if he made the team.

“I was checking the e-mails every day,” smiled Morris. “When I found out I made the team, I had a smile on my face. A big smile.”

Morris, whose repertoire includes a two-seam fastball that tops out at 87 miles per hour, slider and change-up, compiled a 6-5 won-loss record with 49 strikeouts and a 2.65 earned run average for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Athletics in the Premier Baseball League.

B.C. plays its first game Saturday against Alberta.

Laura Medcalf, Vernon, manager, triathlon

The lone North Okanagan non-athletic participant is every bit as excited as the athletes.

Medcalf’s role has been that of an assistant coach with Team B.C., which has involved assisting with the creation of selection criteria, hosting selection camps (one was in Vernon in April) and coaching mentorship under head provincial coach Kelly Guest. Medcalf was a coach alongside Guest at the national championships in June in Ottawa.

“It’s my first time at the Games and I’m thrilled to go,” said Medcalf. “We have one of the strongest B.C. triathlon teams we’ve ever had, with athletes having recently placed 1,2,5 and 8th at the North American Junior Championships, so I am looking forward to seeing first-hand the skill and speed it takes to perform at that level, and to being able to bring those experiences home to further develop our athletes here.

“It’s always inspiring to be part of a multi-sport Games, and it drives further creation of opportunities for our local athletes, which is really exciting.”

Medcalf was head coach for Zone 2 at the 2016 B.C. Summer Games in Abbotsford. She will be the race director for the provincial triathlon championships in September at Kin Beach at the Paradigm Naturopathic Kids Triathlon.

 

Trinity Hansma

Mackenzie Horst

Laura Medcalf

Carter Morris