The flame is out and athletes are on their way back home with inspirational words from Fred Sasakamoose as the 2018 Saskatchewan Winter games are officially in the books.
Closing ceremonies were held at the Civic Centre in North Battleford Saturday afternoon. Ex-NHLer and first Indigenous NHL player Fred Saskamoose addressed athletes with his own story.
“I was once chasing the impossible dream of an Indian boy,” Sasakamoose said. “An impossible dream I didn’t think was made for me. You too, the young dreamers, can make it possible.
“My grandfather couldn’t talk and couldn’t hear, but he took me to the sloughs with my bob skates and said to me ‘I’m going to make a champion out of you.’ In 1948 and 49, we won the Saskatchewan Midget Championships. It was then my dream became a reality; to be a hockey player.”
One of the most powerful parts of Sasakamoose’s speech was when he talked about how there had been no discrimination in his life. He referred to a white man who made his dream of hockey possible and how he honoured black and Asian teammates he played with.
“I put a black lace on my right skate for Al Haycock, a black man, who played right wing. For the yellow man on my left wing, I put a yellow lace on my left skate. A red man in the middle, it is me.
“They told me I only had five minutes up here on stage, but you are all worth more than five minutes to me; the young people, who devoted so much of your time to the sport.”
The ceremonies closed traditionally by handing the Saskatchewan Games flag over to the next host city. Gerald Aalbers, Mayor of Lloydminster, accepted the flag on behalf of the city, which will host the 2020 summer games.
According to 2018 winter games co-chair, David Schell, the past week was more successful than he ever thought possible.
“It has been an absolutely amazing week,” Schell said. “We have heard nothing but great things about all the events and venues. We want to make sure to thank all the athletes, organizers, sponsors and especially the volunteers. We couldn’t have done any of it without them.”
According to Schell, planning for the games has spanned over two years and he couldn’t even count the number of hours put in.
Despite remaining mixed on if he would step up to the plate once again, Shell said: "Was it worth it though? Oh, 100 per cent. I have no regrets getting involved and it was an amazing experience.”
On Twitter @realgreghiggins
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