Based on their name alone, one might assume that members of Creston’s Coffin Dodgers don’t have a chance. But they’re going to be doing more than dodging coffins next week, when they play slo-pitch in the BC Seniors Games, which run Aug. 16-20 in Trail, Castlegar and Nelson.
“It’s important for us to go as a team and see that we’re not finished yet,” said Mary Davies.
“We only have one foot in the coffin,” said Doug Reid.
“It doesn’t matter how old we are, we just try and compete,” said Don Simmons.
The Coffin Dodgers will play on Aug. 17, 18 and 19 at Castlegar’s Kinnaird Park, with a team ranging in age from 55-74 — including four women from Cranbrook to ensure the team is mixed enough for the 55-plus mixed division — taking on teams from around the province. Following round robin matches on the first three days, the top four teams will compete for bronze, silver and gold on Aug. 20.
The team has members from ages 55-82, and is part of Creston Valley’s recreational league. While most slo-pitch teams play a short season, they usually play from spring until the weather grows too inclement in October.
The Coffin Dodgers got their start in 2000, when Reid and Simmons were chatting at the Creston Curling Club. A team was quickly formed, and competed, but didn’t place, at the 2000 BC Seniors Games.
The team joined Creston’s rec league in 2001, but needed a name to do so. The first one that was suggested, said Reid, was Old Farts.
“I’m not going to be called an old fart,” said member Sally McGregor, so Reid suggested Coffin Dodgers — and it stuck.
In the team’s second year, it placed second in the league’s C division. It wasn’t exactly the top of the heap, but that doesn’t stop the members from doing their best against the whippersnappers on the other teams.
“They enjoy us just as much as we enjoy them,” said Simmons. “They’re not out to kill us, just beat us.”
“We give them a good run for their money,” added Davies, who first played in the Seniors Games in Elford in 1999.
Of course, the game isn’t without its dangers, particularly in less than spectacular weather.
One year, at Lister Park, there was a massive mud puddle between first and second bases. Reid slipped and landed in the puddle, and Simmons came right behind. He, too, began sliding through the mud.
“My knee was going straight for his face,” said Simmons. “I threw myself back and we were both lying in six inches of water.”
That year, the Coffin Dodgers came in last place, earned the booby prize, a toilet seat.
The entire team, though, is always ready to laugh off the dangers. At one tournament, the other players walked onto the field to sombre music with McGregor in a coffin. When they arrived at home plate, the music changed to something snappy from the 1950s and they all began dancing.
“We’ll go there and have fun,” said Reid. “We’ll be competitive, but we’ll have fun.”