HUNTSVILLE - Volleyball team? Check.
Members of the Muskoka-Parry Sound District Four volleyball team (above and left) hone their skills at a Feb. 9 practice at Huntsville Public School leading up to the games on Feb. 26 to 28 in Huntsville.
Ten men and women from across Muskoka and Parry Sound gathered on a Saturday afternoon in the gym at Huntsville Public School for their first practice as the region’s official volleyball team for the 2013 Ontario 55-plus Winter Games.
Laughter and encouragement filled the air as the newly minted team hit the court to serve, bump and spike a few balls before the games begin in Huntsville on Feb. 26 and run to Feb. 28.
Anne Garbutt of Huntsville and Sharon Peters of Nobel, two team members who met for the first time during the practice, both said they joined the team for camaraderie as much as for sport.
Garbutt, who played volleyball in high school and now plays in a Huntsville-based recreational league, read an article about the games and how organizers were looking for local athletes. She decided to put her name on the list.
“I thought, ‘I could do that,’” she said.
She said she is drawn to volleyball because of the comradeship and social side of the sport as well as the recreational aspect.
“It’s always fun,” she said. “And you’re not sitting on the couch.”
She commented on the limited number of team sport opportunities for people her age, so the games gave her an opportunity that she doesn’t often get.
“There aren’t a lot of people who are 55-plus that play team sports,” said Garbutt. “So I was really excited when I read about the winter games. I thought, ‘Yay!’”
More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend the games. Sports include alpine and Nordic skiing, badminton, curling, duplicate bridge, hockey, table tennis, prediction skating, 10-pin bowling and, of course, volleyball.
Peters, a former Queen Mother of the Red Hat Society, said she hadn’t played volleyball for years, but when she saw an article in the newspaper urging people to get involved in the games as athletes, she took the opportunity to sign up.
She echoed Garbutt’s comments about the friendships that come from participating in team sports, which is something she had experienced with volleyball in the past.
“We always had a good time. We’d play then go out for a beer,” she said. “We’d be socializing as well as playing.”
Peters said she is looking forward to creating friendships and socializing during the games as much as she is looking forward to hitting the volleyball court.
The Canada Summit Centre, Lake of Bays Community Centre, Huntsville High School, Riverside Public School, Huntsville Curling Club, Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, Delta Grandview Resort and Arrowhead Provincial Park will host events throughout the last week of February
The event is a provincial multi-sport championship that will showcase athletes 55 and older and is an excellent example of what a healthy, active lifestyle can contribute to improve quality of life in a person’s senior years. For more on the event, visit www.ontario55pluswintergames.com.