Kiwanis sportsperson of the Year – Organizer earns honour

Trail Kiwanis Club’s 2011 Sportsperson of the Year is Keith Smyth.

Greater Trail has come to depend upon a select group of volunteers over the years, and often leading the charges is the Trail Kiwanis Club’s 2011 Sportsperson of the Year – Keith Smyth.

Smyth was one of 10 Greater Trail recipients to be awarded the B.C. Sports Hero award a year ago from Sports B.C., but the Kiwanis award is special says the former school administrator.

“It’s an honour of course,” said Smyth. “I went down to the mezzanine floor of the arena (Trail Memorial Centre) the other day and looked at all the names of the people there, and said, ‘Holy cow I don’t think I’m in this group.’ It’s a great program the Kiwanis has developed.”

A retired principal, Smyth’s experience was a perfect fit for his most recent role as vice president and director of administration for the 2011 B.C. Seniors Games, but it all began back in the ‘80s when colleague and mentor Terry Demchuk asked Smyth to get involved.

Smyth began coaching Little League, and eventually became president of Trail’s bid committee to acquire the 1987 Canadian Little League championship.

Through Little League, Smyth developed a friendship with Kootenay Savings CEO Doug Stanley and from there it snowballed.

He was asked to be operations manager for the 1995 Babe Ruth World Series, then president for the ‘96 Trail-Castlegar B.C. Summer Games, the ‘06 Greater Trail B.C. Winter Games, and he completed the trifecta as the Seniors Games vice president in 2011.

“As a school administrator, you have certain skills there with scheduling and all that, so I got my training there, and secondly I always had this feeling that because being a public employee, a public servant, and being paid through the taxpayers, I always wanted to give something back to the community,” said Smyth.

Indeed, the former MacLean Elementary School principal’s skill set transcends sport, as he was also operations manager for the Trail Centennial Celebration, an organizer for the Colombo Park Project, the White Garden Project, and the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Heliport project.

“I was kind of immersed in it through these mentor-friendships, but it got the whole thing going,” said Smyth.

His dedication to each challenge has made Smyth a popular choice for any major undertaking in Greater Trail, but for him, the success of any project or event has to be attributed to the number and quality of volunteers assembled, and the community that supports it.

“When you work on these big things, the first step you do is put together a team, and those teams have to be at the highest level of your community whether it be transportation, or security, or protocal or whatever, so you approach some very, very talented people and you work with a very talented team,” he said.

“I enjoy that very much and of course, the second is the volunteer aspect. You are working with people that have such a great interest in their community and they are there for the best of reasons.”

Smyth, an avid curler, will be at the Trail Curling Club helping out with the B.C. Senior Curling championship this week, in the unique role of  volunteer rather than organizer.

Join the Trail Kiwanis Club at the Riverbelle Saturday, for the Sportsperson of the Year banquet honouring the 2010, 2011, and 2012 honourees.

Tickets can be purchased at the Trail Coffee Company, The Doorway in Trail, and from any Kiwanis member. Call Peter Thiessen at 368-3581 for tickets or for more information.