Saskatchewan Summer Games being Monday in Meadow Lake
July 30, 2012
A 40th birthday isn’t normally associated with youth. The Saskatchewan Games are a notable exception.
The Games, which were first held in 1972, are commemorating a milestone over the next week in Meadow Lake, to which 1,900 athletes between the ages of 11 and 18 have flocked.
Opening ceremonies for the 11th Saskatchewan Summer Games were held on Sunday night. The first event of that nature was held 40 years ago in Moose Jaw.
The 1972 Games are only ones in which Lorne Lasuita has not been involved in some capacity. Lasuita, the Saskatchewan Games Council’s Provincial Games Consultant, made his debut at the 1974 Saskatchewan Winter Games in North Battleford.
“It has been a good run,’’ the Regina-based Lasuita said before leaving for Meadow Lake. “I’m kind of a Games junkie.’’
The Saskatchewan Games Council holds a multi-sport festival every two years, with the winter and summer events alternating. The 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games have been earmarked for Prince Albert.
“To me, it’s about the joy of sport development and knowing that sport provides a good, healthy, active lifestyle,’’ Lasuita said. “Hopefully, it helps the athletes become better people in the process.’’
The competition begins today in Meadow Lake in baseball, female soccer, male and female basketball, canoe-kayak, swimming, tennis and golf. The first-half sports are to conclude Wednesday, when archery, athletics, equestrian, male soccer, softball, triathlon, and male and female volleyball begin. The latter sports wrap up on Saturday, when the closing ceremonies will take place.
The athletes will represent nine districts — Regina, South East, South West, Parkland Valley, Prairie Central, Saskatoon, Rivers West, Lakeland and North.
“A main purpose of the Games is really to give our athletes a chance to move to a higher level of competition,’’ said Lasuita, outlining an ideal progression to the Western Canada Games, Canada Games, and international events that include the Olympics.
“Lucas Makowsky is kind of our model,’’ said Lasuita, referring to the Regina speed skater who won a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. “Lucas started in the Saskatchewan Games program and now he’s a world-calibre athlete and an Olympian.’’
In another respect, Meadow Lake is a model for how to stage a provincial Games. The community’s facilities have been enhanced for the Games by an expenditure of $700,000 on capital projects.
“They’ve done a tremendous job in Meadow Lake as far as leaving a legacy,’’ Lasuita said. “From the beginning, they focused on leaving something behind in the community, and they’ve done that.’’
One of the new facilities is the PineRidge Ford Theatre in Lions Park, where the opening ceremonies were held.
To commemorate the event’s milestone, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will be displaying memorabilia from previous Games for the entire week in Meadow Lake.
Along with Moose Jaw in 1972, past Summer Games have been held in Swift Current (1976), Estevan (1980), North Battleford (1984), Melfort (1988), Prince Albert (1992), Moose Jaw (1996), Yorkton (2000), Weyburn (2004) and Lloydminster (2008).
The Winter Games hosts have been North Battleford (1974), Moose Jaw (1978), Prince Albert (1982), Yorkton (1986), Melville/Ituna (1990), Kindersley (1994), Nipawin (1998), Humboldt (2002), Melfort (2006) and Moose Jaw (2010).
Regina and Saskatoon are not eligible to stage the Saskatchewan Games because, given the size of those cities, they are capable of playing host to larger multi-sport events, such as the Canada Games.