First of three parts
It is a selfless job, giving up a weekend to man a stopwatch at a swim meet, spending hours coaching a little league baseball team, or helping out at the concession stand at soccer games.
For every volunteer the reasons they give their time to a sports organization vary, but there is one constant amongst them: they do it not for the recognition but because they love it. As Gayla LeMaire once said, “Volunteers are paid in six figures … S-M-I-L-E-S.”
This series will highlight three major sporting organizations in Nelson who have massive volunteer bases giving their time for the love of sport.
The first part will focus on the Nelson Youth Soccer Association followed by the Nelson Minor Baseball Association and the Neptunes Swim Club.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Nelson, with over 950 children playing on teams anywhere from U6 to U18. It takes a massive amount of volunteers to make the Nelson Youth Soccer Association run smoothly.
“This area has so many people willing to give up their time for nothing and all they’re trying to do is make the community better. They really do give hours upon hours, not only for their children but to make the community better as whole,” said Kootenay Regional Whitecaps Academy head coach Brett Adams.
Volunteer roles in Nelson Youth Soccer range from manning the concession stand on Saturdays, coaching a team, organizing practices, to managing a team.
For the past eight years the duo of Lua Gerun and Shiloh Perkins have taken on the roles of Nelson rep soccer co-coordinators.
Putting in anywhere from three to ten plus hours a week during peak season the duo is responsible for working with all of the coaches and team managers, ordering uniforms and equipment needed for the rep program, organizing the Terry Walgren Tournament, and anything to do with getting players registered with BC Soccer.
Gerun became involved because her daughter plays soccer and she wanted to be involved in the sport her daughter was taking part of so often.
“I think at the end of the day it’s seeing the smiles on the kids faces and to see them enjoying the program I helped develop for them. It’s all about the kids, we just want to make sure they will be active for the rest of their lives,” said Gerun.
For the kids, seeing their parents volunteering their time for Nelson Youth Soccer instills something special in them.
“Children here are coming up through a process where they have been given the right molding and right things and that’s down to the volunteers. We’ve got some great volunteers who portray their morals and ethics,” said Adams.
The groups of volunteers who make soccer in Nelson run so smoothly are part of a team, each person depends on one another to share the workload.
“You want to see that it’s important for these programs to run with volunteer parents. Most sports don’t have the funding so they depend on volunteers,” said Gerun.
The hours taken to plan, organize, and prepare for each week’s practices and games are all made worthwhile when the tireless volunteers see the kids enjoy soccer.
“Certainly you can tell when you’re down at the field, you can see it in the kids eyes when they look at a coach or volunteer — they respect them. You can tell they are respected for what they are doing,” said Adams.
Although there are different reasons each volunteer puts in the time they do everyone does it for a love of soccer.
“I felt comfortable in promoting volunteering with these kids because I love soccer,” said Gerun.
Nelson is truly a unique place and the community that supports the sport of soccer plays one of the largest volunteer roles of all.
“I just think there is a mentality here that’s different than anywhere else. People want to make a difference they want to give up their time to make that difference. They sacrifice their time to make sure the kids are being led in the right direction,” said Adams.