Eighty never looked so good.
Bill Kennedy, Gerry Lannan, and Watt Parsons know a thing or two about keeping active as you age. The trio were recently inducted into the 80+ Hockey Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Ottawa and will be a highlight of the Town of Huntsville’s Sports and Recreation Week in a special skate on November 21.They want to encourage kids to stay active and keep their skates on as long as they can – just like they did.
Kennedy, 84, Lannan, 86, and Parsons, 82, were three of eleven inductees into the 80+ Hall of Fame on November 1. It began when Bruce Cassie, a fellow shinny player, nominated Kennedy for the honour. When he was contacted, Kennedy told them there were two other players over 80 on the team who should be recognized, too.
The three were treated to box seats at an Ottawa Senators game the night before their induction. Day of, they and their families enjoyed a free skate followed by a two-period game between teams made up of past and new inductees. The players wore specially-made 80+ jerseys and, afterward, were awarded certificates and their own hockey cards.
“We were annointed with a hockey stick by the former mayor of Ottawa. They treated us really well,” said Kennedy. “It was a great experience.”
Both Kennedy and Lannan developed a love for the game at an early age. Kennedy remembers playing at Icelandia arena in Toronto with its square corners. “I remember at 13 I got hit in the corner and I just went bang, bang, bang from one board to the other.”
But Parsons didn’t start playing until he was 63 – proof that it’s never too late to try something new. “I was born in a little fishing village in Newfoundland and no one played hockey. I didn’t even see a pair of skates until I was 12 or 14 years old and then somebody handed me down a pair that were made out of an old pair of kid gloves, I think.”
Many years later, in 1994, Parsons was looking for a way to keep busy in the winter and began pleasure skating with his wife, Marilyn. They bumped into Kennedy and Doug Barnes, who were both hockey players, who said “we should play hockey,” and senior shinny was born. They’ve been playing ever since. There are now two divisions: the 55+ Shinny and 65+ Super Shinny, with 75 players between the two.
You’ve got to keep the juices flowing. If we can cajole one more guy to play and have fun, that’s a good thing.
Bill Kennedy, 80+ Hall of Fame inductee and local shinny player
On November 21, join the hall of famers at the Canada Summit Centre during the Mayor’s Ice Challenge and Public Skate from 12:00-2:00pm. At noon, challenge Mayor Scott Aitchison during ice races and obstacle course races. Then at 1:00, meet and skate with Kennedy, Lannan and Watt and celebrate their induction with cookies and hot chocolate. It’s all free as part of Huntsville Sport and Recreation Week. Click here to see the full schedule of events for the week.
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