Octogenarian goalie still going strong

Wally Holt celebrated his 82nd birthday last week by playing hockey

Among his many talents

Age is little more than a number to Wally Holt.

The West Kelowna man spent part of his 82nd birthday last week at Jim Lind Arena playing goal for the Ogopogos senior men’s hockey team.

“I felt not too bad…I made a few good saves and I let in three,” Holt said with a laugh. “The main thing I enjoy is the camaraderie, the guys that you meet and B.S. with, and have a good laugh.

“It’s just good to be out there.”

A native of Saskatchewan, Holt has been playing hockey for 76 years, the last 23 of those with the Ogopogos of the Westside seniors hockey group. He plays goal on Tuesdays and forward on Thursdays.

While Holt knew he would be playing hockey on his birthday a week ago Tuesday, he wasn’t aware of the gathering that would follow.

About 40 current and former players joined Wally at the local A&W to celebrate the occasion.

The celebratory goodies included a birthday cake, appropriately iced with a mask, stick and puck.

“I still can’t believe it,” Holt said of the surprise party. “It was pretty nice of everybody to do that.”

Teammate Ron Herman, who helped set up the birthday event, said while Wally loves hockey, it’s just one of his many interests and talents.

In addition being an avid golfer, Holt is also an accomplished musician and painter.

“Wally is very talented,” said Herman. “He likes doing a lot of different things and he’s good at them.

“Wally is a general all-round good guy,” he added, “the guys love him being around.”

As far as age is concerned, Holt rarely gives it a second thought. He sums up his philosophy on aging by citing a quote from Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Satchel Paige.

“(Paige) said ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know old you are,'” Holt said. “What does (age) matter. It’s how you feel.”

As for how much longer he intends on playing hockey, Holt said that will all depend on how long both his mind and body plan to cooperate.

“Until I’m not lucid out there,” Wally said. “Once you figure you’re not with it, that will be it…but I still feel good.”