By Nolan Kowal, Sport Performance Specialist
Team Manitoba is made up of some of the top athletes, coaches, and managers in the province. They train for months – some even years – with dreams of participating in the Canada Games. Planning for the 2023 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island is well underway, and Team Manitoba is once again preparing to represent our province with pride while aiming for the podium.
Part of this preparation involves recruiting volunteer mission staff to help support Team Manitoba on its journey to the Games. It’s a long road between that first try-out and ultimately being named to the team, and the heart and soul of Team Manitoba, our mission staff, are there every step of the way.
Who Are Mission Staff?
Mission staff volunteers are the primary link between all components of the Canada Games – the athletes, coaches and managers of their designated sport, their provincial sport organization, and Team Manitoba staff. They do all the behind-the-scenes work to minimize distractions, so participants can optimize their performance. Communications, performance, and medical professionals round out the team and provide support to all Team Manitoba participants.
Team Manitoba’s Chef de Mission and two Assistant Chefs de Mission are the team captains. They take care of the team as a whole and are responsible for the team’s logistics, care, performance, and reputation.
“We look for individuals who exemplify the characteristics and values we want our program to reflect: collaborative high performers who demonstrate a positive, team-first attitude. Working at a Canada Games is a tremendous responsibility, and we are fortunate in Manitoba to have no shortage of qualified applicants each time a Games comes around,” says Drew Todd, Team Manitoba’s Chef de Mission.
Mission staff volunteers are vital to Team Toba’s success at the Canada Games. They are the mentors, motivators, and cheerleaders whose leadership, patience, and team spirit never fail.
“Mission staff play that vital role of being a conduit of information between the Host Society and the athletes and coaches representing Manitoba at the Games. Unlike a traditional, single-sport event, a multi-sport Games has a tremendous number of moving parts and it is the expectation of mission staff to filter out the noise and put our teams in the best position to succeed when it matters the most,” says Todd.
What To Expect
Volunteering as mission staff is a significant time commitment that involves a lot of preparation in the lead-up to Games, and then of course, attending the two-week event. There are practices and events to attend, administrative tasks to support, and technical packages and procedures to learn. Team Manitoba staff support the volunteers every step of the way – from the recruitment process, to the orientation, to special events, and training retreats where we teach you the tricks and tools you’ll need to succeed.
The excitement and anticipation build as we get closer to the Games, and we connect more regularly to ensure it’s all systems go. During the Games, the anticipation turns into adrenaline that keeps you going for long days of cheering, troubleshooting, and team-building.
Being immersed in a multi-sport Games environment is a unique, exhilarating experience that often becomes a cherished memory. There’s always something going on, and every day is new and exciting. Not only do mission staff ensure athletes are well-prepared on and off the field of competition, they also have the opportunity to take in other competitions and cultural events, and meet people from across the country.
“The Canadian sport system is heavily dependent on the volunteer community, and the Canada Games are no different. Without their hard work and engagement, an event such as this would not be what it is, and the athletes and coaches would lack the resources to put their best performance forward against the rest of the country,” adds Todd.
Testimonials – You HERD it Here First!
“There are so many facets that go into planning a Canada Games, the logistics of bringing people and athletes together from across the country wouldn’t happen without the volunteers. There’s no single story I can tell to explain the experience. It’s a great group of people working towards a common goal. There are highs and lows as far as athletic accomplishments, but there’s an anticipation and excitement in that. I was able to interact with all kinds of people from different backgrounds than me which was very cool, and not something I experience often. I would capsulize it by saying it’s an intense two-week experience. Put your name in – you won’t regret it.”
– Stephen Younger – 2019 Canada Winter Games
“I’ve tried coaching, I’ve tried officiating, I’ve done a bunch of other things in sport, but giving back in this way, was a good fit for me. I’ve enjoyed being behind the scenes and being able to cheer everybody on. The connections I’ve made with other mission staff are strong, too. Those friendships are unique, they’re not like anything I have in my day-to-day life.”
– Tara Funke – 2007 Canada Winter Games, 2009 Canada Summer Games, 2019 Canada Winter Games, 2022 Canada Summer Games
Next Games – 2025 Canada Summer Games
We’ll recruit volunteers for the 2025 Canada Summer Games soon. Stay tuned!