SportsEvents Magazine

NOV 2016

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November 2016 14 ngie Riley needed someone to film the Big O Roller Derby earlier this year but had no budget for it. No problem. The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission trained volunteers to step behind the cameras. "I don't have a bunch of videographers at my beck and call but what I did have was a lot of people who were passionate about the sport," Riley said. Volunteers also handed water to hundreds of swimmers as they emerged from the Gulf of Mexico during the Alabama Coastal Triathlon in September then directed them to the next leg of the route. In all, 117 volunteers assisted with registration, retrieved timing chips at the finish line and manned water stations along the route through Gulf Shores, AL. When you consider that only six Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism staff members were present, it's easy to see the huge effect volunteers have on the event. "We have a limited staff and some of our events require 100 people to make happen," said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. "Those other 94 people running the events are volunteers who are extremely important to us and the success of our events." The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region of Oregon is also known as Track Town USA, hosting events including U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships and the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Those events don't happen without thousands of volunteers who put in tens of thousands of hours. "Volunteers are essentially your lifeblood for an event. You cannot host an event without volunteers," said Joey Jewell, director of sports sales and development for the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission. "Most commissions just don't have the staffing. So without having those volunteers, the event just doesn't happen," he said. "Volunteers are actually the most important aspect of any event." Approximately 75 volunteers at that three-day Big O Roller Derby put in a total of 1,481 man-hours. This year marked the Big O's fifth year and "it has definitely grown quite a bit," Riley said. "Originally, the host league provided the volunteers." That's true of most sporting events, Jewell said. "Regardless of whether it's a local event, national or international, it always starts out with the host clubs," Jewell said. But Riley said in the case of an event like the Big O that has grown so much, they can no longer just count on its league members. "So we've had to look out to other neighboring leagues and community members who volunteer for other sporting events," Riley said. "Something we are very proud of is that we have a strong volunteer community." Volunteers help with security, social media and scheduling; serve as event coordinators; feed participants and officials; and run scoring machines. They may even flag competitions. The good news is that those tasks are trainable, Jewell said. Like filming the Big O, for example. What a volunteer really needs is passion. "We look for people who are passionate A GAME Plan t VOLUNTEER SPIRIT! Finding The Support You Need BY TAMMY LEYTHAM Track Town USA Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism Volunteers assist at the finish line of the Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Triathlon, held in September in Gulf Shores, AL.

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