John and Christopher Horwood exist, in part, because of the BC Summer Games.
The Oak Bay twins’ mom, Tina Horwood, loves to tell the tale to her students at Oak Bay High, who apparently also enjoy the story, of how she met her husband. Tina’s dad hired waterski coach Dick Horwood to train her leading up to her Summer Games competition years ago. They’re now married with kids with multiple trips to both winter and summer renditions of the Games.
The BC Winter and BC Summer Games are the province’s biennial celebration of sport and community. Since 1978, the Games have taken place in 38 communities involving more than 350,000 participants and volunteers. This year, Oak Bay athletes John and Christopher scored places in both seasons. The figure skaters competed in February in the juvenile boys U14 category. Christopher skated a personal best – his goal for these Games – and earned bronze medal while John finished just behind his brother in fourth.
This month they take it off the ice and on the water in the towed watersports competition.
“It’s pretty much the opposite,” says John with a laugh. The pair, going into Grade 8 at Lansdowne Middle School this fall, compete against each other and for Vancouver Island in trick, jump and slalom water skiing.
John, as he does on the ice, loves the jumping.
“I just like flying off the jump on a good jump, especially in a headwind ‘cause it pulls your skis up and if feels really good,” he says. “I think with my brother and I, if we ski really well we could bring back some gold and silver (medals).”
Christopher tends to prefer, and fare well in, slalom competition.
“I don’t know why I’m good at it. I guess I practice it more because I like it more. It’s more natural for me to go around buoys than off a ramp,” he says with a laugh. “When it’s calm it’s really fun, because it’s smooth and no wind against your face.”
The twins are accustomed to facing each other in competition. “We’re pretty even in trick and the overall scores, it really depends,” Christopher says.
The Horwood clan tends to hit the road, leaving Oak Bay for the warm waters of Shawnigan Lake each summer. “We can all do it as a family. Everyone in our family skis, so it’s fun,” says Christopher.
The Games are an opportunity the boys look forward to, with tales handed down by both of their older sisters, who each competed twice in waterski competition at the Summer Games.
“The Games are different to a lot of competitions. There’s the team part of it and the bus and sleeping in the school. It’s a really fun opportunity to just really enjoy it with team members,” Christopher says. “I love being around other people that I can relate with. It’s fun with the dance and all that, being with other people you’ve never met.”
The pair head for Washington state training camp right after competition ends in Abbotsford.
Oak Bay has more than 20 athletes slated to compete this summer as well as coaches: Izzy Champion (athletics), Shannon McMillan (athletics), Makayla Dickinson (athletics), Leo Mah (athletics), Noah Takacs (baseball), Leo Jansch (baseball), Ethan Brownsey (basketball 3×3), Hunter Williams (basketball 3×3), Matthew Geng (basketball), Hannah Stevens (sailing), Alex Morrow (soccer), Will Stokes (soccer), Jackson Walch (soccer), Gabby Freer (softball), Mareya Valeva (swimming), Caoimhe McElroy (synchronized swimming), Jonathan Horwood (towed watersports), Christopher Horwood (towed watersports), Brandon Thom (volleyball), Zach Monckton (volleyball). Oak Bay’s Delani Hulme-Law is tasked with coaching sailing.
Among the plethora of athletes from the community are a trio of Eagles baseball players, also Oak Bay High students, Noah Takacs, 14, Dawson Clark, 15, and Leo Jansch, 15.
“It’s nice to get to know more players from other areas, said Leo,, a pitcher and first-baseman, who starts Grade 10 at Oak Bay high in the fall. They’ll compete with a second Island zone baseball team as well as others across the province during the BC Summer Games July 21 to 24.
“It’s the experience for me,” says Noah, centerfielder and pitcher who starts high school in the fall. “It’s a pretty cool thing.”
To make the baseball cut players must be 14 or 15 and the Summer Games are held every two years, so it’s a coup to be selected.
“You only get one shot to do it,” Dawson says.
While the camaraderie of hanging with new friends and overnighting on classroom floors at area schools is among the main draws, says centerfielder Dawson, “gold is always the goal.”
A realistic goal, all three agree. They also voice pride at representing their ball teams (Red Eagles for Noah, Black Eagles for Dawson and Leo), school and community.
The 30th BC Summer Games are in Abbotsford from July 21 to 24. As many as 3,667 participants (2,754 athletes, 535 coaches, and 378 officials) will compete in 18 sports – including three for athletes with a disability.
Follow the results at bcgames.org online.
If you attend the 2016 Summer Games next week, let us know your highlight.