Show­case: Game of Bones

Meet a world cham­pion Bun­nock player—a bone-toss­ing game that dates back to the 19th cen­tury!

Our Canada - - Features - by Adele Paul, Saska­toon

Iam a writer, a blog­ger, and a proud mom of three, but per­haps, most in­ter­est­ingly, I am a world cham­pion. I wouldn’t call my­self fa­mous, as you will not find my com­pet­i­tive en­deav­ours tele­vised on any ma­jor net­work, nor have I landed any prof­itable en­dorse­ment deals to date. I am sure, how­ever, that any of the good folks liv­ing in and around the small town of Mack­lin, Sask., would be happy to fill in the blanks of my—our—ex­tra­or­di­nary story.

It be­gins in 1993, when the Cham­ber of Com­merce in this west-cen­tral Saskatchewan town put their heads and hands to­gether to con­ceive of and host the first-ever World Bun­nock Cham­pion- ship… but what’s Bun­nock? No­body’s ever heard of Bun­nock, you say?

Well, the more than 360 teams slated to play in this year’s cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment dur­ing the long week­end in Au­gust would beg to dif­fer. Any one of these peo­ple will tell you that Bun­nock is a proud and long-stand­ing tra­di­tion in the town of Mack­lin. They will ex­plain that Bun­nock is a game, com­pa­ra­ble to horse­shoes, in which op­pos­ing teams com­pete to knock over each other’s line of horse-an­kle bones, spaced ten me­tres apart, by lob­bing—you guessed it—more horse-an­kle bones at them! And if you ask why, they will tell you the story of the 19th-cen­tury Ger­man-russian an­ces-

tors of the pi­o­neer folk of Mack­lin who, to pass the time on the frozen Siberian land­scape, took to throw­ing about horse-an­kle bones. This in­for­mal game was handed down to sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions and even­tu­ally found a new home as a re­aldeal world cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion in Mack­lin. They might also share with you some of the names of Bun­nock le­gends, such as Mel Gart­ner, Chelsey Doet­zel or Troy Baier who man­age to dom­i­nate the tour­na­ment year af­ter year. And maybe, just maybe, they will share a fleet­ing mem­ory of my team—the youngest ever to win the tour­na­ment, join­ing their ranks as World Bun­nock Cham­pi­ons in 2001.

Over the years, I’ve been asked how my team, com­posed of my­self, then just 20 years of age, and three younger cousins, man­aged to pull off a victory of such “os­seous” pro­por­tions. Well, the truth­ful an­swer is that it took a healthy dose of prac­tice and a dol­lop of Viel Glück (Ger­man for good luck)! The four of us, like many around Mack­lin, grew up play­ing “bones” in back al­leys, on fam­ily farms, at wed­dings, fam­ily re­unions and com­mu­nity events. We played with our grand­par­ents, par­ents, neigh­bours, cousins and friends, and, no doubt, ev­ery one of us threw our first bone (al­beit at an al­tered, shorter dis­tance) be­fore the age of five. Grad­u­ally, I sup­pose, one’s aim im­proves and some play­ers hone a spe­cific throw­ing tech­nique, but even the most sea­soned vets will tell you that bones is as much a mind game as any­thing else. They will also tell you that some

days suc­cess is ef­fort­less—that they know the sec­ond the “thrower” leaves their hand that it is go­ing to make a con­nec­tion on the other end. Other days, they can’t hit a bone to save their lives. Of course, there is al­ways the added el­e­ment of luck! An un­for­tu­nately placed stone on the court, for ex­am­ple, can al­ter a throw bound for bone-shat­ter­ing glory or a sandy spot can stop a thrower dead in its tracks. These added ran­dom el­e­ments keep Bun­nock play­ers and fans on their toes, and un­doubt­edly con­trib­uted in some part to our suc­cess on Au­gust 5, 2001.

Let it be known that you don’t have to be a world-class ath­lete to en­joy the World Bun­nock Cham­pi­onship. This spec­ta­cle holds ap­peal for peo­ple of ev­ery age, and you won’t re­gret com­ing to Mack­lin to dis­cover its charms for your­self! With play­ers and spec­ta­tors rang­ing in age from 5 to 85, the town swelling to more than dou­ble its size, and a spirit of vol­un­teerism that has to be seen to be be­lieved, you will not leave Mack­lin dis­ap­pointed. You will be for­ever touched by the best this com­mu­nity has to of­fer, and you will ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self the magic that draws peo­ple back to the World Bun­nock Cham­pi­onship year af­ter year. The World Bun­nock Cham­pi­onship takes place Au­gust 3 to 5 at Mack­lin Lake Re­gional Park, one kilo­me­tre south of Mack­lin, Sask. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit https://www.face­book.com/ World­bun­nock.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.