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Volunteer Says She's 'Just Helping Out'

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By Ben Welsh

Colleen Lewis is living a dream as the host for Team Sweden. The 22-year-old Cape Breton native knows she is part of something special.

She is taking full advantage of her chance to help out at this year's Women's World Hockey Championship.

Lewis is one of 600 volunteers on assignment at the event, and was picked by the operations committee to be a host.

The hosts are the people assigned to individual teams and placed in charge of taking care of the players’ needs. Lewis was picked because of her dedication and passion for the sport of hockey. Her positive attitude and caring spirit might have had something to do with it as well.

Maria Rooth, one of the Swedish players, said Lewis just seemed to fit in. "She arrived at our first meeting, told us she was here to help us with anything we need, and now she is part of our family," Rooth said.Despite being picked by the operations committee, Lewis did not have an easy road getting here.

Lewis had booked off time from work to make sure she could volunteer at the event. But when work had to change her schedule, she kept her eye on what she wanted, quit her job and came to volunteer at the World Championship.

"There isn't a job in the world that would have kept me from this. It's the chance of a lifetime and I'm loving every minute," Lewis said.

And she comes by her passion for the game honestly. She has played in several hockey leagues in both Nova Scotia and Ontario, and has always loved watching the Canadian team play. Hockey was always on the television at home, and her family has been around the game for several generations.

She is such a die hard fan, she even named her daughter after Canada's #22, Hayley Wickenheiser. But Lewis' love of hockey is not focused only in Canada. She follows European teams as well, and sees a major improvement in the caliber of both the Swedish and Finnish teams since Nagano.
 
"Both teams have proved something in the past few years, and should make Canada aware of what's out there," Lewis said. "It's going to be important to keep developing our program because the Europeans are young and hungry for medals. The Swedish team's performance this year has proved something for European hockey."
 
Lewis spends 24 hours-a-day with the Swedish team. She is in charge of arranging rides, organizing day-trips, getting ice-baths ready, and helping with the essentials - like getting hot dogs."We were sitting around the dinner table the other night, and after a week of chicken and heavy foods, all the girls wanted was hot dogs,

" Lewis laughed. "So, I got them some hot dogs and everyone was happy." The girls from Team Sweden have been helpful with Lewis' life as well. "They are always asking me to bring my daughter over to the hotel so they can play with her," Lewis said.
 
They have also welcomed her brother and given her support, as she dedicates every hour to making sure the team has everything they need. "These girls are role models for everyone - boys and girls alike - and for me to spend this much time helping them out is a dream come true," Lewis said.
 
And when Lewis thought it couldn't get any better, the Swedish team invited her to spend a week in Linkoping and Norrkoping, Sweden during next year's World Women’s Hockey Championship. Lewis is working out details with the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation about her possible role at next year's event, but is still focusing on her job here in Halifax. She is still making sure that everything is in order, and learning as much Swedish as she can.

"Some of the players tease me by teaching me bad words and I get a laugh when I say them to other people, but the girls and coaching staff are so helpful," said Lewis. "Terho (seen at right) is like a father to me and I'm so happy about the time I have to spend with them.

”As the World Championship comes to a close, Sweden is moving into medal contention. With a game Monday against the USA, they could be on their way to the gold medal match against Canada Tuesday night. Lewis says she will be there with them until the end - from whenever they're done the last game until they step on the plane.

"I can't believe how wonderful they all are. They have treated me so well and welcomed me into their family," Lewis said. "I am going to cry when they go - I'm going to miss them so much."


For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557
abrin@hockeycanada.ca

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4564
fdupont@hockeycanada.ca

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
kgoodrich@hockeycanada.ca

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