Matthew Marino and teammates Quinn Doray and Toryn Sherman challenge Ben Harrison and Betty Brunner to a game of Uno. (Leah Blain photo)

Column: Game on between seniors and hockey players

Friends and Neighbours/Leah Blain

It was a hard and fast game. The Salmon Arm PeeWee Tier 2 Silverbacks (11-12 year-olds) were down 3-0 but at the final whistle, they tied West Kelowna Warriors 4-4. Then, after a quick change they were off to Subway for lunch. They didn’t have much time because they had plans.

In the meantime, at Piccadilly Terrace everything was set in place. Cookies and juice were on the table and various games were set up. The residents were ready for a special visit. Those who have walkers tucked them away so they won’t be in the way for their guests.

“I’m going to play Yahtzee with the boys,” says Hanne deDood. She is looking forward it.

“We should all integrate with the younger folk and understand them, and they should understand us. When I was young, old people were old, maybe they think the same. We’re not that old,” she says laughing.

At 2 p.m. the players come in and walk over to the tables, sit down and get right to the business of playing games.

Parker Davidson, Sawyer Mayes and Nate Mayes sit with Hanne who gives them a quick lesson on the game and they start playing. When it’s Hanne’s turn, she gets a Yahtzee (the highest point combo in the game) and the kids cheer.

At the table beside them, Peggy Mitchell is clearly enjoying her game of Yahtzee with Ben Tudan, Ben Harrington and Tate O’Brien.

Related: Salmon Arm minor hockey players recognized with awards

“I haven’t played this,” says Peggy. In between turns she tells them a little about herself. She and her husband lived in Prince Rupert.

“Do you know where that is?” she asks Ben Tudan.

“Yes I do,” he says.

She says her husband wanted to live where there was more sun but he wanted to still be by the water.

“You came to a good place for that,” he says.

They look back at the game and Ben, who knows this game well, gives advice to his friend.

At another table Luella Schartner is playing Crokinole with some players and at other tables the card game, Uno, is well underway.

Daron Mayes smiles as he watches everyone having a nice time. As the head coach, this initiative is his idea.

“I have a document that I go over with all the kids about core values. It’s about servant leadership and selflessness. At the end of the day, for me, it’s about teaching these kids a bigger picture of life lessons than hockey. Having that kind of mindset helps us on the ice anyway, but that’s secondary. The idea is you think of others before yourself and caring about others.”

Related: Salmon Arm minor hockey teams kick off their first season as Silverbacks

He says sometimes doing things like this puts the kids a little out of their comfort zones but that’s okay because they learn about “bigger life realities.”

Throughout the year he gets them to do a few activities that focus on the community and helping others.

“In a world that seems to be more and more like ‘it’s all about me’ – I want them to think outside of themselves so their relationships will be so much better. Life is all about relationships.”

Around the room, conversations drift from subject to subject, places where people have been, what relatives do for a living, swimming and rattlesnakes.

As their time is wrapping up, the noise level goes up with ‘goodbyes’ and ‘thank-you’s’ and, in true sports fashion, many of the youngsters go around shaking hands with the residents before they go.

“I thought they made the afternoon fun for us old people,” says Ben Harrison. “It was a really fun afternoon.”

“One of the kids was a real card shark,” says Betty Brunner laughing, “the way he shuffled the cards.”

“They seem to be very smart kids,” says Peggy.

“I’ve got seven grandchildren – all boys,” adds Ben.

“I loved it,” says Betty. “I wasn’t sure when I came down – but it was great fun.”

“It was a really good idea,” says Peggy. “Those kids are so nice. They were willing to talk about what they’re doing.”

“I had loads of fun,” says Hanne. “There was lots of nice boys and nice girls.”

The kids enjoyed it just as much as the residents.

“I thought it was cool,” says Ben Tudan. “They were once in my shoes and might have gone to the rink. They remember what it was like and we never really think of that. I think it’s cool that they were here before I was born…. Without them we’d be farther behind that what we are. We should support them and thank them for all the things they did.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

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