By Sarah Tone, Communications Coordinator

Mission staff volunteers support Team Manitoba and their individual sport team(s) at Canada Games. They operate behind the scenes to minimize distractions for Team Toba, so participants can optimize their performance and represent Manitoba the best they can. They’re Team Toba’s mentors, motivators, and cheerleaders and they’ll make sure you have the best time in PEI!

Meet our mission staff for the 2023 Canada Winter Games:

Drew Todd – Chef de Mission

Drew is Sport Manitoba’s Senior Games Manager and joins Team Toba as the Chef de Mission for the 2023 Canada Games after experiencing the Games environment as a member of Team BC’s mission team in 2015 and 2017. He worked in BC’s sport system for nearly a decade, most recently as the Manager of Performance Programs at Canadian Sport Institute Pacific. During that time, Drew led a variety of support programs targeted at high-performance athletes and coaches aiding development along their sporting journey.

Kelly Babb – Assistant Chef de Mission

Kelly first found her passion for sporting events working for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She also worked for the host societies of the 2017 Canada Summer Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. She joined Sport Manitoba in 2018 as a Games Specialist. Growing up, Kelly played every sport available, with a focus on soccer. Nowadays she still loves to be active, but can be found planning their next travel adventure, gardening, or spending time with her crazy cat – Harvey (the Harv Man).

Pete Conway – Assistant Chef de Mission

Pete moved to Canada in 1980 from Northern Ireland. He spent most of his youth in Thompson and gained a great appreciation of the outdoors and how valuable a sense of community can be for families. He’s been involved in multi-sport Games since the 1996 Manitoba Games. Pete’s first Canada Games experience was at the 2001 Canada Summer Games, and after those Games, he knew he wanted to be involved in the planning and organizing of Games as a career. Twenty-six years in sport administration and he still loves going to multi-sport Games and how it brings people together like a family.

Gabrielle Desrochers – Operations Manager & Judo

Gabby grew up in St. Boniface with a family that always encouraged new activities and trying new things. A multi-sport athlete in high school, her favourite was always hockey. As far as she can remember she’s participated in and coached in sport, and credits her experiences as an athlete for why she pursued a degree in Kinesiology and a career in recreation and sport development.

Jessica Fichtner – Biathlon & Cross Country Ski

Jessica is a mechanical engineer and works at Boeing. She competed in biathlon for 10 years, competing at the 2011 Canada Winter Games and 2013 FISU Winter Universiade. She also volunteered in athletics at the 2017 Canada Summer Games and is super excited to see the Games from another side as mission staff. Jessica continues to coach biathlon, primarily through the Air Cadet program which she has been involved in since she was 12 years old. She is currently a Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve Force working at 191 West Winnipeg Rotary RCACS.

Kara Fulawka – Table Tennis & Hockey (F)

Kara recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology in Athletic Therapy and started her Master’s of Science in Kinesiology this fall. She is a practicing Certified Athletic Therapist with experience working in a variety of sports including football, hockey, and soccer. Her favourite things about her job are meeting and helping athletes along the way and the excitement of a big game day! In her free time, Kara enjoys doing anything that gets her outdoors and she is excited to travel with Team Toba and see the landscapes that PEI has to offer.

Kylo Harris – Speed Skating – Long Track & Archery
Kylo is a self-declared Games junkie. He’s been involved in Manitoba Games, North American Indigenous Games, Western Canada Games, and Canada Games in both Summer and Winter. He’s married to Donna, a former Canada Games athlete, coach and mission staff member, and they have two daughters, Abby and Clara.

Darian Hole – Squash & Badminton

Darian has been a lifelong athlete previously competing internationally in triathlon and representing the U of M Bisons on the track. He recently graduated with a degree in molecular biotechnology and while he still trains, he also likes to try out new sports such as tennis and cross country skiing. As a member of the 2023 mission staff team, his goal is to help support our athletes like was done for him when he was competing.

Scott Kirk – Speed Skating – Short Track & Alpine Ski
Scott currently resides in Brandon and works at the Brandon Regional Health Centre. He is an avid sport enthusiast who loves to either participate in or watch sports. He has participated in a number of multi-sport games as a sport chair and mission staff and looks forward to the 2023 Games and helping to create a memorable experience for the athletes.  Go Team Toba!

Emily Lambert – Wheelchair Basketball & Figure Skating

If there is one thing you need to know about Emily, it is that she loves sports! Emily even went to University to pursue a career in Athletic Therapy, so that she could learn more about treating and preventing injuries, as well as becoming a sport first responder. She now works in a clinic and with sports teams. During her free time, she enjoys playing ringette, spending time with her dog, and getting outside to explore our beautiful province.

Alana Lesperance – Ringette & Fencing

Alana is a Team Toba alumni! She is currently a student-athlete playing for the Manitoba Herd in the National Ringette League. She represented Team Canada in 2017 where they won gold and was a member of Team Toba in 2019 where they won bronze. Her biggest accomplishment was being named Team Manitoba’s flag bearer at the 2019 Games (and she didn’t fall!). Alana loves naps almost as much as she loves ringette and is currently finishing her degree in Kinesiology with hopes of becoming a physiotherapist.

Laurie Macdonell – Curling (F) & Curling (Mixed)
Laurie has been involved with sport for most of her life – playing, coaching/watching her children, and now working for the sport of curling. Her two sons have been involved in curling, hockey, and lacrosse. Now that they are older, she is able to take opportunities to give back to the sport she loves and is looking forward to being a part of the 2023 Canada Games team.

Grant McManes – Hockey (M) & Boxing

Grant is retired after 34 years as an educator. For most of his career he worked at the school division office as the Physical and Health Education Coordinator that included overseeing all athletics. He is a True Sport Champion and is active with True Sport Lives Here Manitoba. He was a volunteer for the 1999 Pan Am Games and the 2017 Canada Summer Games and is looking forward to being a member of the 2023 Canada Winter Games as mission staff.

Peter Nicholls – Freestyle Ski & Curling (M)

Peter is a long-time educator, phys. ed. teacher-turned administrator and has been involved in sport, playing, coaching, officiating, and volunteering for 50 years. Peter is a longtime curler but he also coaches many sports including curling, basketball, volleyball, badminton, track and field, soccer, and field hockey.

Ryan Van Berkel – Gymnastics & Snowboard
Ryan is originally from Alberta. When he moved to Winnipeg he fell in love with the Manitoba sport community. He’s involved in hockey, sailing, and archery as a recreational athlete, club volunteer, and provincial sport organization staff. He’s very excited to take part in his second Canada Winter Games as part of Team Manitoba’s Mission Staff!

Jeff Wood –  Performance
Jeff is the Performance Manager at Sport Manitoba Performance. He has been in the strength and conditioning field for almost three decades after graduating with a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Manitoba. Jeff has a passion for working with and helping young athletes reach their potential so they can perform at their best, when it matters the most. He believes in putting equal importance on training, nutrition, rest/recovery, and mindset to become a top achiever in sport and life.

Jacqueline Mazur –  Performance
Jacquie is a Performance Coach at Sport Manitoba Performance. She’s worked for Sport Manitoba since she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Manitoba in 2014. She’s also held various positions throughout the province as a performance coach over the years. She helps our athletes reach their performance goals, while giving them the skills and knowledge they need to be active for life. Jacquie has also spent a lot of time working with Para and Special O athletes, who inspire her daily! She’s looking forward to seeing the athletes compete, and being part of Team Toba in a multi-sport Games atmosphere! 

Craig Brown – Performance
Craig is our mental skills coach and this will be his first Games as a mission staff with Team Toba. Craig has worked with the University of Manitoba’s Women’s soccer team as a mental performance consultant, and he has degrees in psychology (B.Sc.) and business administration (M.B.A), and an M.A. in Kinesiology and Recreation Management with a focus in Sport Psychology. Craig will help our teams prepare mentally, and anticipate and plan for distractions ahead of and during a major multi-sport Games.

Sarah Tone – Communications Lead
Sarah is Team Manitoba’s Communications Lead. She joined Team Toba in 2015 and instantly became a Games junkie. For her, it’s getting to know the athletes and sharing their stories, mentoring the mission staff, and creating a positive overall experience for our team that keeps her coming back. She’s worked for Sport Manitoba in communications for the past eight years and spent some of that time as the Communications Manager for the 2017 Canada Games. You can hear her laugh from any room, if there are rules – she’ll follow them, and she loves roller coasters.

Evan Midford – Communications Assistant
Evan is a lifelong soccer player and distance runner. He played for Bonivital in his youth but now plays on multiple soccer teams year-round. Graduating with a degree in communications in 2020, Evan spends most of his free time thinking about and/or taking care of his dog Freya, who is very stinky.

Amanda Lefley – Communications Assistant
Amanda is a big believer in the impact of sports. She grew up playing fast-pitch and hockey, and has continued her love of sports into adulthood. So much so that her pandemic hobbies included taking up golf and snowshoeing. She’s volunteered for communications committees for the 2017 Canada Summer Games and Manitoba 150 anniversary celebrations, and can’t wait to be a part of the 2023 Canada Winter Games in PEI.