Volunteers are routinely underappreciated and rarely recognized but on Wednesday evening a capacity crowd packed the Waneta Room at the Best Western to show just how much 10 people mean to the community.
It was standing room only as over 150 family, friends, athletes, organizers and supporters turned up to applaud the 10 Greater Trail recipients of Sport BC’s Community Heroes Awards and their tremendous contributions made to sport over the years.
“I’m thrilled with the turnout – and surprised,” said Sport BC representative Carey Summerfelt who said about 25 turned up to the ceremony in 2010. “I honestly can’t say how important it is (to recognize these people). These volunteers put in countless hours and never get any recognition and it’s about time somebody gave it to them.”
Sport BC and Teck Resources recognized Ken Koshey (hockey), Cliff Tyson (curling), Fred Bushell (skiing), Kathryn Johnston (figure skating), Barry Zanier (Premier’s sports award), Nicole Lord (Special Olympics), Tom Gawryletz (hockey), Ryan Kuhn (biking), Ray Nelson (rugby), and Keith Smyth (B.C. Games) for their long term commitment and dedication to sports in the region.
“These 10 individuals all support a very unique and important part of what our community is and these individuals you also see involved in so many other things,” said Teck spokesperson Carol Vanelli Worosz.
After introductory remarks from Trail’s acting mayor Kevin Jolly, Summerfelt and Vanelli Worosz presented the awards, giving each recipient a moment to respond.
“It’s something special really . . . It’s nice to be recognized for what you do,” said Tyson, a long time volunteer in curling and minor hockey.
“A lot of people don’t understand, if it wasn’t for us volunteers we wouldn’t have clubs in Trail.”
The hour-long ceremony was highlighted by many gracious and humorous remarks but all recipients displayed extraordinary class and humility.
As Zanier so eloquently put it, “People in this area get involved in their activity because it enriches the lives of others and that makes it all worthwhile.”
Ken Koshey’s whole Rossland-Trail Atom Wings hockey team was on hand to support their coach, and as his co-coach Aaron Weishaupt observed, “He is the most positive guy I’ve ever met. He is incredible with the kids, just an awesome guy.”
Being dubbed the Home of Champions is not without it’s responsibilities and a certain amount of pressure to perform is required, not just on the playing surface but behind the scenes in organization, coaching, and administration – areas populated by volunteers.
“Our community and, to some degree, our economy depends on people giving of their time freely and Trail has always been top notch in that regard,” said Jolly. “Our volunteers never let us down.”
The volunteer community is essential to pull off events like the recent B.C. Seniors’ Games, said Smyth.
“For every athlete, organizers need at least one volunteer.”
Even in everyday activities, devoting one’s service so youngsters can enjoy sport is crucial.
“We need the volunteers to keep the organizations running,” said community hero Johnston who has been involved in figure skating for over 50 years.
“It’s a big part of keeping sports affordable for kids is by having volunteers run it.”
Volunteering may take time and effort but in the end it’s worth it, says Nelson, who has been a rugby coach, player and official for over 35 years.
“The best part of the whole thing was the people I met and the friends that I made.”
The Community Sports Heroes Awards will be making the rounds to a half dozen communities across B.C. including Nelson next month.