A Gold Medal for the Volunteers

By Larissa Campbell

As the cowbells clang, snare drums boom, and horns toot at the University of Manitoba’s Investors Group Athletics Centre, fans are utterly absorbed into the loud and chaotic atmosphere of the Canada Games’ Volleyball events! Offering great demonstrations of teamwork and athleticism, volleyball is one of the most captivating sports to watch live! However, none of the passion incited by the 2017 Canada Games would ever have been possible without the support of our 6,000 volunteers.

Photo: Paul Reimer

These friendly, helpful and eager people are not always the loudest or the most pronounced at the Games, but they are always visible! Sporting their bright orange t-shirts and jackets, it is easy to spot a volunteer; whether it is when they are directing and providing information about the Games, or as they are ushering you to your seats in the sporting venues. Here at the Investors Group Athletic Centre, volunteers of all ages and abilities were helping out in a variety of different functions: like security, sidelines judges, and ball catchers!

Kiera Wortley, a young volunteer at the Investor’s Group Athletic Centre is a guest services representative. She directs people to where they want to go, provides them with information about the location of various amenities throughout the venue, and also provides information about Winnipeg and the many wonderful things our city has to offer. Kiera says that her job can be summarized to smiling! Well, smiling and answering the question: "that’s where and when?” severeal hundred times a day. To Kiera, the most interesting part of the 2017 Canada Games is having a “behind the scenes viewpoint”, as well as being able to talk to the athletes! In fact, Kiera spoke to a Nova Scotian athlete who told her that Winnipeg is now his favourite city! The athlete’s excitement made Kiera feel extra-proud to be a representative of our beloved city.

John Giesbrecht, another of our volunteers, is a volunteering veteran! Having volunteered for the Pan Am Games and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, this retiree takes great pleasure in spending his time helping others. When asked why he chose to volunteer for the 2017 Canada Games, John responds that “it's only natural… and I’m too healthy not to help!”. Acting in a security position at the Investors Group Athletic Centre, John loves the “easy going” environment, and tries to “present a friendly face to people from other provinces”. Just like Kiera, John enjoys conversing with people from other provinces. In one case, he was able to forge a connection with the parents of an athlete from Truro, Nova Scotia. Truro, a city of 12,000 residents, is a place that John had visited many years ago with his kids. To him, his trip to Truro is one of his most cherished memories. To the athlete’s parents, he spoke tenderly of Victoria Park, a beautiful wooded park in the heart of Truro that he and his kids explored, and was glad to hear that the park is still flourishing today!

Although the 2017 Canada Games primarily seeks to encourage youth sport, it also illustrates to the athletes of the importance of volunteering and donating your time to help others. In appreciation of the 2017 Canada Games volunteers, athletes and coaches thank our volunteers on a daily basis, give them team exclusive pins, and are always kind to them. So, the next time you see one of our 6,000 volunteers (outfitted in bright orange), be sure to thank them for their time and effort in making the 2017 Canada Games a success worthy of a gold medal!