Nine-ball tournament hits milestone
Pool: George Carey Open marks five years in Okotoks
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 06:00 am
George Carey Open winners
2015: Eli Yarwood
2016: Will Adair
2017: Dave Williams
2018: Lynn Green
Friends, family and a life’s passion were celebrated as an Okotokian hit a milestone.
The 90th birthday celebration ran in conjunction with the nine-ball tournament named in his honour as the George Carey Open, Feb. 8-10, hit its fifth anniversary with its biggest numbers to date.
“It was great. It brought tears to my eyes,” George said. “Each year it seems to be improving even more, it’s great to see more people come out and meet more friends and have a lot of fun.
“It makes me feel great to see all these people involved in it.”
George grew up in Montreal and took up pool at the age of 12. It’s been his passion for 78 years and one he’s passed to three generations of Careys.
The 2018 tournament featured George, his sons Bill, Kevin and Sean, grandsons Joel, Trace, Brydan and Garth. He’s also begun teaching some tricks of the trade to the up-and-coming Carey clan, William and Eli, who aren’t quite old enough to be in the competition.
“It has been great,” George said. “I’ve taught a lot of them and they’re even beating me now at times. There is a lot of competition.”
Following the event, more than 100 friends and family were on hand for the awards banquet and George’s 90th birthday celebration at the Elks Hall.
“It was fantastic. We had our biggest turnout, we had 55 players registered for the event,” Bill said. “We had about 120 who showed up for the dinner and the awards and with walk-in people we had probably 150 show up. The celebration went over great.
“(George) was over the moon. He knew the function was happening, but when he walked into the hall and saw that many people it was overwhelming for him. But he loved every minute of it.”
The tournament dates back to 2013 when it was unofficially held and later adopted by the Okotoks 8-Ball League at the behest of former president Ron Spencer the following year.
Bill Carey won the inaugural event that featured 10 competitors.
The turnout has increased nearly six-fold over the half decade with the 2018 event attracting 55 participants at five locations in Okotoks (In Cahoots, Elks Hall, Boston Pizza, Grand Central and Original Joe’s).
“I think it’s the fact we try to promote the fun, the friendship, the family and getting everyone together,” Bill said. “Because George has played in the league for so long everyone knows him.
“The tournament will just keep growing. Our league and our town is growing and I think it’s all about the fun we try to promote.”
Reflecting the growth was Lynn Green’s championship at the Open, becoming the fifth different winner in the history of the event.
“It’s the fifth annual and we’ve never had a repeat champion,” Bill said. “Which is great because we keep getting new people out. We had all of the past champions there and it was awesome to be able to recognize everyone that’s been there throughout the years.”
The league has truly got behind the tournament, both of which are major fundraisers for local charities. The 8-Ball League raised nearly $2,400 for the Okotoks Food Bank in 2017 and is on track to shatter that mark this season.
“We get a lot of local donations from local businesses,” Bill said. “This year we were able to raise $2,500 that will be given back to the food bank, that was just through the tournament. We also do it through our league fundraising. We will surpass what we donated last year, we’re going to blow that number out of the water.”