BP Cup...An Inside View
Leduc, AB - Curling fans in Alberta were immersed in the Boston Pizza Cup, the Provincial Men’s Curling Championship, from February 6th to the 10th. A large crowd descended on the Leduc Rec Centre, from the Wednesday’s Opening Ceremonies to the Sunday afternoon Finals that featured the two Kevins: the battle of Team Martin versus Team Koe promised some great curling action, and the game requiring an extra end that delivered that, and more!
An event of this magnitude, creating five days of morning-to-night activity, required a year of planning and dozens of volunteers to coordinate it. From Security to Ticketmaster, bar duties to Opening and Closing Ceremonies details, the list is long of all the various aspects of such an endeavor. The City of Leduc had hosted this event once before, and in the wake of last year’s successful Alberta Scotties hosted in this city, many residents and regional curling fans happily enlisted on the volunteer roster, either to repeat a past involvement, or to join an event that they thought would be fun and exciting to help with.
Well, this writer has been involved in other large sporting events in the past, and being a fan of curling, I impulsively decided that I wanted to be a part of this particular event. So I attended the recent Volunteer Rally meant to add a few dozen volunteers to an already impressive list of people who had signed up months ago. In my enthusiasm and “Cup fever”, I recruited four friends who shared the same passion for sports and volunteering. Together, we signed up for various duties, totalling more than twenty shifts over the course of the week. I am grateful to Valerie Kobeluk, Scott McKellar, Sarah Jones and her mate Rob who joined me in this adventure and completed their duties with enthusiasm and loyalty.
Experiencing a curling championship “from the inside” adds a new dimension to that event. Signing up as a volunteer provided us a lovely dark blue jacket bearing the Boston Pizza Cup logo and a pass to view all the curling we wished to see, outside of our shifts. Some of us signed up for six shifts, others for three. I witnessed many volunteers who did two shifts, every single day!
LRC officials were tireless workers. We tend to take this for granted, but I know for a fact that after their busy week-long duties, they were in attendance all day and all night, for the five days of the Cup. Roger Smolnicki and Jim Jones must have walked a few dozen miles each day, as they looked after myriad details, in conjunction with the officials of the Leduc Curling Club and the chairs of the event: Fay Crone and Dawn Gavin (a Leduc County team member) interacted with their coordinators with precise direction and cheerfulness. Ruby Olson, the event manager, also logged several daily miles, and kept a smile on while dealing with a lot.
I was impressed to see many parents serving with their adult kids, couples and close friends working together. Iris and Rod Yanish, Ardis and Morley Grabia, Carol and Shantel Pruneau, Bev Neufeld and Bev Murphy, the Jobbs, Dodmans and Gavins, Marcia and Jackie are just a few of those ‘pairs’ who now share precious memories of this Cup. I was pleased to see many young people also involved, a mindset probably taught by their parents’ example…
People seem to think that only retired people have the time and freedom to become volunteers. Being a part of the Cup and chatting with many volunteers have shown me that people ‘make the time’, either with the cooperation of their employers, or by doing what they have to make it happen! For example, Lorna Black who was in charge of the Ticketmaster volunteers took time off to be at the Cup every day, while her partner Mary Ellen Konyer had to attend a teachers’ convention, but was present every evening and all weekend. This was a duty I particularly enjoyed as I like computers and dealing with curling fans, and I was thrilled to experience the Canadian institution of Ticketmaster… from within!
I was also impressed to see City of Leduc and Leduc County team members tirelessly working outside of their regular work hours… Alex P. of the LRC Team, Ron Mac, Jerry L. and Sherry of Leduc’s Public Works, Darrel Melvie and D’Anne O’Keefe are just a few of those… Retired Smitty’s owner George Lavertu should be resting in the Sunny South, but was seen cheerfully selling 50-50 tickets for several shifts!
Although there were strict rules about media’s interview restrictions within the confines of such a Championship, like other volunteers I enjoyed visiting with fans and players in the Oil Patch, the large social area set up in the Co-op Field House. I came across Calvin Schiewe, a Leduc County resident who with his curling teammates was invited the throw the first rock that officially launched the 2013 Boston Pizza Cup in the Sobey’s Arena. The reason for this honor is that Mr. Schiewe and Team Ferster (Greg Ferster is also a Leduc County resident) won the 1993 Labatt Tankard, the Provincial (AB) Men’s Championship: he shared that it was quite a surprise to the curling community when a Leduc-based team won that event and went on to compete in the Canadian Championship, where it competed for several games… Calvin was a congenial and enthusiastic curling fan and I treasured my chat with him!
The Oil Patch featured two great bands on the Friday and Saturday nights, Cod Gone Wild and The Moon Dogs. Another pleasant feature was the great menu served by the Leduc Boston Pizza Cup team, led by owners Ken and Darlene Behiel. A popular member of their congenial team was Jessica Behiel, a lovely Calmar teen who cheerfully and tirelessly served customers and showed a grace and people skills way beyond her years.
As volunteers, we had a bit more opportunity to meet the players as spectators do; after the evening Games, many curlers visited with family, friends and fans in the Oil Patch, which was open to everyone. I have now a few new favorites whose careers I will follow in earnest: Matt Ng and the members of Team Thomas, Karrick Martin who shows a lot of potential (Team Bottcher), Marc Kennedy who was the recipient of the 2013 Bo Davidiuk Award (Team Martin), Kelsey Dusseault of Sexsmith (Team Powell) and Blake Macdonald of Cold Lake. I am also a new, devoted fan of Kevin Koe and his teammates, who fought a valiant and skilled battle against the Cup’s winner, Team Martin. As a fan of CFCW’s Jackie Rae, I was happy to see her being the dynamic MC of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, masterfully coordinated by the amazing Lil Van Marum of Leduc.
“Many hands make light work’. This saying certainly applies to the successful 2013 Boston Pizza Cup. Close to 200 volunteers were on the roster, and more than half of them walked in a procession at the Closing Ceremonies. A moment -and an event- I shall never forget!
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