MONTREAL – Like many World Junior Championship volunteers, Sacha Vaillancourt considers hockey more than just a sport; it’s a passion.
After working as manager of Hockey Canada’s Quebec Centre of Excellence from 2003 to 2011, Vaillancourt left the organization to pursue a career in risk management in the insurance business at BFL Canada.
However, his passion for hockey is still alive and well. That is why it was only natural for him to accept an invitation to join the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship team as director of the volunteer management committee for the event.
“I’m at a time in my life where, thanks to the experience that I was lucky enough to gain throughout the years, I can now give back not only to Hockey Canada, but to the sport”, says Vaillancourt.
“First of all, hockey is my passion. So this is a really great opportunity for me to get involved and furthermore, it’s an environment with which I’m familiar.”
And as far as international hockey goes, Vaillancourt is undoubtedly an expert in the field.
In 2008, when Canada hosted the IIHF World Championship for the very first time, he was chosen to lead the organization of the event which was held simultaneously in Halifax and Quebec City.
“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life; I worked with the International (Ice Hockey) Federation, I worked with Hockey Canada and also with local authorities”, remembers Vaillancourt.
“Having worked alongside the members of the organizing committees and the people who held the same position at the time as I do now, I was impressed by the quality of those people and by what they were able to accomplish”, he adds.
For the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, Montreal and Toronto will need approximately 1,500 volunteers. They will be essential to the smooth running of an event of this magnitude and Vaillancourt does not underestimate their importance.
“For the championship, if we don’t have a solid volunteer structure, with people wanting to get involved, we have no chance of succeeding. They are one of the cornerstones of the event!”
Vaillancourt goes on to add: “Volunteers are the key. In events as well as in Canadian minor hockey, everything starts with them! They are the basic structure of the game.”
Since the World Juniors will take place on Canadian soil in December for a fifth time since 2006, Vaillancourt believes that Hockey Canada will be able to surpass all expectations and organize a memorable event.
« I think that Toronto and Montreal have a chance to set the bar even higher for this event and that everything will be put into place to create that Wow factor!”, says Vaillancourt.
“Hockey Canada has gained incredible experience in organizing this tournament and that is why I believe that the 2015 World Junior Championship will be the best event ever!”
And he is not just saying this; Vaillancourt firmly believes that it will happen. But for him, the volunteer experience goes well beyond the hosting of the event.
“It’s not only the championship that leaves an impression, it’s also the people that you meet at these events”, says Vaillancourt. “You cross paths with people from all over the world who share your passion for hokey. These are memories and acquaintances that can last a lifetime.”
Vaillancourt contends that people in Quebec and Ontario have to realize the magnitude of the event and take full advantage of it.
“It’s a huge event and for Canada, it’s something prestigious”, explains Vaillancourt. “It’s an honor for our country to host this event every two or three years and we really feel that people are passionate about junior hockey and that they can’t get enough of it.”
« It’s a spectacular sport in a spectacular event with numerous countries taking part; it’s obvious that it will stir up emotions in several people.”
If, like Sacha Vaillancourt, you would like to volunteer at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in December, please visit the following website:
Volunteer applications are now closed for Toronto but several positions are still available in Montreal.