In a colourful display of enthusiasm, more than 100 Cowichanians gathered at the Cowichan Theatre for a Key Volunteer Appreciation Rally.
Decked out in their new fluorescent green jackets and waving yellow towels, the 2018 BC Games Cowichan volunteers were a picture of community spirit. More than a dozen committees have been created to organize the games that will take over the Valley in about 260 days.
The structure is in place and now the challenge will be to recruit approximately 3,000 volunteers who will help with everything from accommodations and food services to protocol and security. Some 2,800 young athletes, competing in 18 sports, will participate in the Games that will mark the 40th anniversary of the BC Games Society.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy,” Games President Jennifer Woike told the volunteers. “When I look at the sea of faces, each one with a different story, the one thing in common is the willingness to help our community.
“All of you take my breath away, giving up your time,” Woike said.
The Games, which will be held from July 20 to July 22, 2018 will have an economic benefit of about $2 million, officials predict. But Woike says the Games are about more than money.
“This is a chance to showcase Cowichan, our Cowichan, the one we know and love. It will also be a chance to create a legacy of volunteers. A community of volunteers is a healthy community.”
Vice-President Mona Kaiser noted that Cowichan is one of the smaller communities to host the Games. Past Games have been held in cities like Kamloops, Nanaimo, Abbotsford and Surrey.
“These will be the Games of the Little Town that Could,” Kaiser suggested. “(Cowichan) is not the type of community that usually puts on Games like this.”
Cam Drew, a key member of the marketing committee that is headed by Cal Kaiser, urged volunteers to “show your colours”, a tag line that will be put to good use in the days leading up to the Games.
The opening ceremonies will be held at Laketown Ranch at Lake Cowichan, site of the annual Sunfest country music festival. Thirteen Cowichan Valley communities will host one or more of the 18 sports. From Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake in the south to Ladysmith in the north, from Chemainus in the east, Lake Cowichan to the west, and Duncan in the centre, the Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games will truly be regional Games.
The canoe/kayak sprint and slalom competitions will be held in Lake Cowichan while wrestling and lacrosse (box) will be hosted in Chemainus. Ladysmith will play host to lacrosse (field) and baseball and towed water sports will be held at Shawnigan Lake. Volleyball will be in Mill Bay and Duncan will be the place to see a variety of sports, including equestrian, swimming, rowing, and softball.
In addition to public and school district facilities, sports will take place at many private venues. This includes rugby at Shawnigan Lake School, golf at the Cowichan Golf and Country Club, triathlon at Brentwood College School, sailing hosted by the Maple Bay Yacht Club, and one of the basketball events at Queen Margaret’s School.
Kelly Mann, president and CEO of the BC Games, says the event is an opportunity for sports fans to watch outstanding young athletes who are certain to move on to bigger and better things.
“Sixty per cent of the kids will go on to the Canada Games and many will make it to national level games,” Mann says. “And some will go on to Olympic glory.”