It was eight years ago this month in Port Alberni that Jesse Jakins made her first and only appearance as an athlete at the B.C. Winter Games.
Safe to say, it was an experience the former competitive gymnast from Kelowna will never forget.
“It was so much fun that first time, a real adventure for a lot of us,” said Jakins. “I remember bussing overnight, riding the ferry, I have a favourite picture of us on the ferry with the wind blowing in our faces.
“There’s also the people you meet,” added Jakins, “the atmosphere of the games…it was a wonderful experience.”
So imagining what several young Kelowna athletes will be feeling later this month when they travel to Vernon for the 2012 B.C. Winter Games won’t be much of a stretch for Jakins.
The 20-year-old Jakins is serving as head coach of the Thompson Okanagan zone team and will be taking four competitors from the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre along with her to compete: Brooke Murray, Hannah Butcher, Jenna Mick and Grace Fecht—all ranging in age from 10- to 12-years old.
After months of preparation, Jakins is excited for her young athletes as they take to the Winter Games stage for the first time.
“This is great for younger athletes, a possible stepping stone for them to one day to compete for Team B.C.,” said Jakins who made it on to Team B.C. in 2005. “My girls have worked very hard and have prepared very well. I want them to do their very best, have fun and enjoy the adventure. It should be a very positive experience for them.”
As for Jakins’ passion for the sport, it hasn’t waned one bit since she first began taking classes at OGC as a three-year-old.
“It’s so fulfilling to go to work every day,” Jakins said. “When I work with these girls, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I think ‘I taught a kid to do a double backflip and she’s only 10’.
“My ultimate goal is to help my athletes keep the passion, just like I’ve been able to do.”
Local coach Norihiko Horie and his athlete, Shane Hiscock, will also make the trip to Vernon for the Games, as will the OGC’s Richelle Casavant, who will work as a judge.
For a listing of Kelowna and area athletes competing at the B.C. Winter Games, visit www.bcgames.net
Kelowna Capital News