You hear it all the time. Hockey tournaments – whether it’s a Novice event
at your local rink or a world-class event like the Hlinka Gretzky Cup –
rely on volunteers. Without them, those events can’t succeed.
From the timekeeper, to the ticket taker, to the in-game announcer and
everyone in between, volunteers are critical to the success of these
Frank Calamatas knows the importance of volunteerism; he’s been doing it
for more than 40 years, since he was a teenager growing up in Outremont,
Que. Calamatas is in Alberta this week for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which
brings together the world’s best under-18 players from eight nations.
Calamatas will work as an off-ice official, as a goal judge, media
relations coordinator and penalty box operator.
“Back in 2013, I was involved with the [Ottawa] Lady Sens, which is a team
in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League,” says Calamatas. “I was involved
in that league for a number of years and it was 2013 when Ottawa was
hosting the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
“I was talking to the team manager and she said that you can volunteer for
the worlds as an off-ice official. She gave me the link to the website and
I put my name in the Hockey Canada portal. I didn’t think much of it at the
time; I thought ‘If they’ll take me, they take me, if not, that’s OK.’ Low
and behold, I was accepted. I became one of three timekeepers for that
tournament. The experience was unique and I rather enjoyed it. I thought it
was a one-off and that’s the end of it.”
For Calamatas, though, that really was just the start of a whirlwind five
years that has seen him work a number of high-profile international events
in various parts of the country. Calamatas added to his resume by working
the 2016 women’s worlds in Kamloops, B.C., where he was timekeeper for the
bronze medal game.
“That was cool,” says Calamatas.
Soon after, he had the pleasure of volunteering at the 2017 IIHF World
Junior Championship in Montreal, with Calamatas handling timekeeping for
the bronze medal game there as well. He also tracked face-offs for the gold
medal showdown between Canada and the United States.
Last week, Calamatas was part of the volunteer crew in Kamloops for the
2018 Sport Chek World Junior Showcase. And he has also submitted his name
for the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver and Victoria.
“I’m hoping that I can meet some people and get more affiliated with Hockey
Canada to break in, maybe do more international tournaments, maybe in
international locales, maybe I’ll get lucky enough and work the Olympics in
Beijing, who knows,” says Calamatas, whose day job is as a computer
programmer with the Department of National Defence. “Another objective
would be to wrangle this experience and show the NHL guys back in Ottawa,
look I’ve done this and this … I would really like to work as off-ice in
In the meantime, Calamatas is looking forward to a great week seeing the
top U18 stars in Edmonton and, upon his return to Ottawa, he will continue
to help support local teams like the Ottawa Champions baseball club (of the
Can-Am League), the Junior A Senators hockey club, and the big league
Ottawa Senators, for whom Calamatas does some volunteer marketing work.
In almost 40 years of volunteering in sport, Calamatas says one thing
remains constant – and that’s continuing to learn.
“There’s nuances and there are things you pick up along the way,” he says.
“I have been doing this for 40 years and you pick up things. Believe it or
not, I have learned more in the past six or seven years when I started
volunteering for the IIHF than I’ve learned in the previous 35 years.
“I develop my timing sense and I have it down to a split second. In the
Showcase, I was working the clock and I have the trigger for the clock in
my left hand and I’ve got a backup stop-watch in my right hand. Both
devices are tuned to a hundredth of a second. I have a game within a game
to see how close I can match the Jumbotron clock with my stopwatch and I
routinely hit it on the bull’s-eye.”