FRIDAY, MARCH 15: VOLUNTEERS THE HEART OF THIS TOURNEY
by Tracy Gagnon
When I first heard the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship was coming to Ottawa, my first thought was, “How can a relatively small city like Ottawa pull off such a huge event?”
It’s been done before, of course. The women’s worlds were here way back in 1990. But how did we do it then and how does it happen now?
Beyond infrastructure, political support and the myriad of other things that need to be in place, the one crucial element needed is people. Lots and lots of people. Volunteer people.
As a rookie, I didn’t realize how many volunteers it takes. This year at the women’s worlds there will be upwards of 800 volunteers. With a population in Ottawa of close to 900,000, about one of every 1,000 citizens will be at the championships working tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything run like clockwork.
That’s truly amazing! A whole city galvanized from the moment the puck drops until the arena lights are flicked off on April 9. No time-outs. No stopping the clock.
Long before the on-ice action; however, there is plenty of behind-the-scenes action going on. And in the midst of it? Volunteers. Would you believe that some volunteers have been working for more than a year to make this world championship happen?
It started with a seriously experienced and passionate group, many of whom had served similar roles during other hockey events. This is the host committee. It involves leadership from organizations such as the Ottawa Senators, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and Hockey Canada, and the people who work tirelessly for them. People like: Valerie Hughes, Viviane Lafontaine, Cyril Leeder, Pat Nicholls, Brodie O'Keefe, Geoff Publow, Fran Rider and Jenn White.
Their roles have been to recruit the best and the brightest to take on positions as directors and co-directors in areas such as administration, finance, hospitality, logistics, marketing, media services, operations, special events, team services, ticketing, sponsorship, venues and volunteers. Our directors include:
Administration: Geoff Publow, Pat Nicholls
Finance: Ron Bilduka, Derek Winch
Hospitality and Protocol: Lise Cardinal, Diane Drouin
Logistics: Peter Hudson, Phil Clarke
Media: Nicola Maule, Brian Morris
Special Events: Len Sheedy, Stephanie Steward, Melanie MacFarlane
Sponsorship: Mark Bonneau, Gina Gianetto
Team Services: Steven Leu, Jean Vaillancourt
Ticket and Marketing: Jeff Kyle, Lisa Strangeway
Venue Operations: Tom Conroy, Mark Magee
Volunteers: Julie Bell, Karen Parker
All of the above people have then recruited brilliant teams under them in various sub-committees. For example, I’m on the publications team, part of the media group. Our group’s fearless leader, Howie Shapero (recruited by media team leads Nicola Maule and Brian Morris), organizes the stories that we then write, working closely with Kristen Lipscombe of Hockey Canada. He determines who’s doing what, when and how. If we need a resource or contact, he and Kristen point us in the right direction. If we start falling behind, Howie cracks the whip!
Much of what my team does, like many teams, happens before the tournament. For us, it’s posting stories on the website or getting an article published in a small local newspaper. For other teams, like venue operations, it includes things like making sure the infrastructure is up to the standard of an international event. The ticketing and marketing group organizes ticket packages, and then needs to monitor sales. Each team has their own set of duties.
Then it’s go time! My team, along with other media teams such as social media and broadcast, will be volunteering away at SBP Arena and Nepean Sportsplex from before that first puck April 2 to beyond that final buzzer April 9. We will be writing, Tweeting, and videotaping our hearts out to bring you up-to-the-minute news from the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
Other areas will be hard at work doing what they do best, too. For instance, you might see Ashley Burrill, a special events team member, directing some fun. You might see security guy Jim Montgomery, logistics team member, helping out some wayward child. Or you might see team host Britany Gordon, a team services volunteer, out buying hockey sticks for a team’s collection that didn’t arrive on time.
Although we all have different jobs, all 800 of us will be strapping on our party pants April 2, ready to show competitors and fans a heck of a good time. How does a small city like Ottawa pull off an event of this calibre? Lots of people. Lots of very enthusiastic volunteer people.
Don’t miss the moment! It’s not too late! If you’d like to volunteer, you can apply at: https://event.hockeycanada.ca/EMS/Event.aspx?eid=44778f5f-d89d-416f-a2ab-864f7ca3a9bf&lang=en-US
Your Hockey Rookie,
About Rookie Reflections: Tracy Gagnon is an Ottawa, Ont., resident and a media volunteer for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. A self-admitted hockey newbie, Tracy and her fellow volunteers, who are generously giving their energy and time to make this event a success, will take us behind the scenes at SBP Arena in Ottawa, Ont., the Nepean Sportsplex and everywhere in between for the inside scoop on what goes into hosting a major world championship in the nation’s capital – all from the eyes of a total rookie.