Hamilton, Ont. – When Sandy Hatch finishes the final position of her “figure skating” routine to the close out competition at the Eastern Schlegel Villages Olympics in Wentworth Heights, a tremendous eruption of cheers and applause drowns out the mellow notes of REM’s Everybody Hurts.
She was the final athlete of the final competition in a day that saw 90 resident competitors and their team member coaches gather from across the eastern villages it the spirit of friendly competition. The huge crowd cheered not only for Sandy, who was flawless and deserving in her routine, but for every person who worked and trained to be able to participate in the event.
“Over the last couple of weeks . . . it’s been really inspiring to watch the level of competition, the spirit of competition and the extent that people put into their training for today,” said Wentworth Heights general manager Vanda Koukounakis during the morning’s opening ceremonies.
Welcoming teams from nine villages, Vanda acknowledged the effort is not just in her village but in every one, as residents worked alongside team members to prepare for the five separate events, including: curling, hockey shootout, figure skating, sled pull and triathlon.
Sandy and her father Doug, who also lives at Wentworth Heights, have the unique distinction of competing together as the only father and daughter. Doug managed to match Sandy’s gold medal with one of his own in the hockey shootout. Both father and daughter agree that the Olympic event serves to highlight the dedication of the overall Schlegel Villages organization. The teams work hard to ensure every resident, regardless of their ability, is able to discover what is meaningful to them in their every day life and pursue it. Then they go well above by organizing events such as the Olympics, which falls under the overall Wisdom of the Elder signature program the organization invests heavily in.
Until she came to watch the qualifying competition, for example, Sandy didn’t even know she’d want to compete in the figure skating event, which requires the competitor to perform a series of balancing maneuvers to music. But the team and her mother, who also lives in the Village, encouraged her to give it a try and she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now she’s proud to be part of the larger event and she’s happy to speak about what it means to be part of a community that truly does support and encourage one another.
“Even if they’re not part of our team,” Sandy says, “you can see how hard they’re concentrating and working and it feels like we’re all on the same team.” As if to echo her words, hugs and congratulations from friends and strangers overwhelm Sandy after she’s awarded gold as her family watches proudly.
“It’s the people that make it great,” Doug says, as the expressions on faces illustrate the beauty of the event. The smiles are broad and bright and the team from Wentworth Heights is to be commended, not only for winning the overall team competition but also for hosting an impeccable day of competition, fellowship and friendship.
Visit Schlegel Villages throughout social media via the hashtag #SchlegelOlympics to watch live streaming events from Winston Park as the Western Villages compete on Feb 22. Archived footage from Wentworth Heights is also available here.