Dr. Stefan Carter didn’t pick up a badminton racquet until 1981.
“It seemed to be great fun to run around, hitting the bird or missing it,” Carter said. “It was nice playing with all kinds of people. Afterwards I, and I believe other people, feel reinvigorated and are able to deal better with whatever life offers.”
Now, at the age of 90, the retired physician still tries to play four times a week.
“When I was in my fifties, I was able to run pretty quick to the bird. Now, it’s harder even though I know, theoretically, how to do it. There’s intricate footwork that is essential and I haven’t really put in enough time practicing.”
His love of the game and staying active is why the Manitoba Badminton Association awarded Carter with the Sport for Life Award Wednesday night.
Carter said he isn’t a big fan of being in the spotlight, but is nonetheless gracious for the recognition.
Carter was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1928, coming to Canada at the age of 20 after surviving the Holocaust.
“I was in the Warsaw Ghetto. My parents were murdered by the Nazis, as were other members of my family. I survived by luck and help of many people. Some were my relatives and some were referred to as Righteous Gentiles, non-Jewish Pols who helped Jewish people survive at great risk.”
After finding a sponsor in Canada, Carter went to school in Winnipeg to become a doctor, and during his graduate studies at Cornell in New York, he met his late wife, Emilee.
“Her mother didn’t know much about Canada and went to the Consulate,” Carter remembered. “They told her that there is electricity in Winnipeg and that people don’t live in igloos. My wife was pretty bright, she was a teacher and an artist.”
They married in 1958 and moved into a red brick house in River Heights two years later. Emilee passed away in 2013, but Stefan still lives in the home where they raised their two sons, who now live in the US.
Even at his advanced age, Carter manages to keep a fairly full schedule.
“I read a lot, I do meditate and yoga and the stretching, which I think is very good. I have gone and talked about my experiences, I wrote a couple of books since I retired. I’m not idle. If I play four times a week and shop and do some errands, there is not much time.”
Carter believes it’s very important that people of all backgrounds hear his story.
“It seems that history repeats itself. Myself and other people have been talking about our experiences, but hate persists, as we well know. We don’t want to take hope away from people but it’s sometimes frustrating that things are not changing.”
Carter credits badminton with keeping him fresh and healthy, and hopes to continue playing until he can’t anymore.
“Hopefully, until my last day, ideally,” Carter said with a chuckle. “Since I came, I’ve had a great time in Canada and still do. Probably, in large part, owing to badminton.”