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Galt explores sports today in Champions and Challenges

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Lethbridge is widely regarded as a sports town. This city has a storied history of sports, but the Galt Museum has decided to  explore the present in their new exhibit “Champions and Challenges in Sports” which opens, May 12, with the official kick off at 2 p.m. May 13.Anine Vonkeman looks at Susan Eymann’s interview in the new Galt exhibit. Photo by Richard Amery
There will be a variety of the subjects in the exhibit present including Kris Versteeg, Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame inductee Brad Brown, referee Bill Halma, Special Olympics downhill skiing medalist and bowler Tyler Birch, curler and Special Olympics powerlifter Jennifer Grimes and sports advocate, and exhibit advisory committee member Knud Petersen.


Curator Wendy Aitkens with  the help of  University of lethbridge applied studies student Stefanie Heidebrecht and much community support, decided to tell some of the stories of not only professional athletes, but amateur athletes, families, referees, sports boosters and fans, to convey a cross-section of the contemporary Lethbridge sports community.  
“ There are a lot of athletes in Lethbridge from professional athletes, to recreational athletes playing in beer league slo-pitch,” said curator Wendy Aitkens adding it was a challenge to choose the athletes to be featured in the exhibit.


“We made 19 phone calls to interview some of these people. Then we put together 10 two-and-a half minute short video clips of the interviews. It was absolutely wonderful,” Aitkens observed adding the Galt did a history of Lethbridge Sports exhibit in 2001.


In addition to the video stations, where patrons can relax on a comfy leather couch to watch them, there are also special displays dedicated to Lethbridge sports notables including former Lethbridge Hurricane Kris Versteeg, who has already won a  Stanley Cup in the NHL, as well as special Olympians, a display on curling, jerseys and much more.


 It is perfect timing with the Alberta Summer Games taking place July 26-29, the Olympics this summer and another big event, the Southern Alberta Games in Raymond in early July as well.


“It’s going to be a really fabulous summer for sports in Lethbridge,” Aitkens enthused.
Stefanie Heidebrecht, University of Lethbridge Applied Studies student who assisted with developing the exhibit, was impressed by how  quickly the community stepped up to help out.

Wendy Aitkens introduces some of the people featured in the Galt’s latest exhibit. Photo by Richard Amery
“It was fantastic how they all came forward to help provide us with the most accurate information,” she said.
“It was awesome how the community came together,” added Heidebrecht who has been proud to call Lethbridge home for the past six years during university. She enjoys playing recreational sports and formed a ball hockey league with her friends.
Susan Eymann from the Lethbridge Sport Council and exhibit advisory committee member was pleased to be involved with this exhibit.


“Most people are touched by sports in the community, from recreational like the Dragon Boat Races, to high performance sports,” she observed.
“ So we were looking for a variety to give a different perspective,” she said.


 “Sports tourism brings in $13.8 billion to the nation,” she said adding  often so many people come to Lethbridge  for sports events and tournaments, that all the hotels are booked some weekends.
“Sports tourism is the most  stable, economy proof industry there is,” she observed. She is looking forward to the Summer Games coming to Lethbridge in July, especially because of a new sport called canoe polo.
“I don’t know what it is, but I imagine there’s a ball involved. I guess we’ll find out,” she said adding she is always discovering new  about Lethbridge’s sports community.


“Did you know we had beach volleyball courts in softball valley? It seems like more people are active  in sports,” she continued.
Coach Allen Friesen, a range officer at  Lethbridge Fish and Game Association’s shooting range in Peenaquim Park in the coulee on the edge of the northwest corner of the city, has a display in the exhibit. He said it is easy to take sports for granted. He concentrates on coaching a variety of people from pastors to 4-H  club members and Scouts how to shoot safely and properly at the range.

“It’s pretty easy to have tunnel vision about everything but your own thing,” he said. He was impressed with the exhibit.
“I think it’s just great,” he said.


 The exhibit officially opens, Saturday, May 12 with the official kick off on Mother’s Day, May 13 at 2 p.m. It will run until Sept. 9.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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