Prince George has a reputation as a last-minute town.
People are known to wait until the day of an event to buy admission tickets and that's often the case when organizations try to round up volunteers.
That approach will not work if you hope to be a sport-speciifc volunteer for the 2015 Canada Winter Games. The time to sign up for those jobs is now, and Angela Parra isn't about to be left out in the cold. Snowboarding peaks the interest of the 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Prince George secondary school and she's registered to become a slipper (course packer) when the Games come to Prince George Feb. 13-March 1, 2015.
Parra and her 16-year-old brother Miguel have been on the PGSS snowboarding team for two years and wanted to learn more about their sport. The Canada Winter Games events will be run to near-Olympic standards and the opportunity to become a part of it was too good to resist.
"I've always been an athletic person and I think that being involved in high-level sports would get me a little bit closer to the extremes of that," said Angela Parra, among hundreds of sport volunteers who signed up last Sunday at the 2015 Canada Winter Games display at Pine Centre Mall.
"I'm interested in being a slipper who plows down the track after the snowboarders have gone because then I can be on the hill. I'll be on my board, hopefully experiencing a little bit of what they did."
It doesn't matter to Miguel what duties he's assigned, as long as he's part of the snowboarding action. "It would be a privilege to help out with anything at the Canada Winter Games, it should be fun," said Miguel. "I'll see more advanced athletes, see what they can do, and they will help me improve my skills to get to a higher level."
Their mother, Martha Valencia, is a native of Colombia and has no desire to learn how to pack a snowboard slope. But she does plan to volunteer during the Games either for the table tennis event or as a hostess, which might allow to utilize her Spanish-speaking skills as an interpreter.
In a game as fast as table tennis is, sharp eyesight and the ability to make snap decisions are requirements to become a judge and Wayne McLeod is hoping a few people on his volunteer list will meet the criteria as minor officials.
"The minor officials will need to make rulings on occasion," said McLeod, the second in charge of the table tennis event. "There's no video replay. We'll have eight tables going at Duchess Park during the second week of the Games. It's an inside, cushy job."
The one-day recruitment drive at the mall attracted 230 volunteers. Not surprisingly, hockey topped the list of most popular events, but all 23 sports, including table tennis and synchronized swimming, added to their list of volunteers.
"We need people that are fun, willing to commit to our sport, willing to learn and willing to just have a great time," said snowboard officials representative Teresa Ellison, who is looking for manual timers, result board operators, course maintenance workers and event administrators.
"We'll train them in a test event we have coming up, Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at Tabor Mountain. That will be a slopestyle and boardercross event so they will have actual hands-on experience. Most of the jobs are on the hill, so you need to be tough and used to the elements."
The organizing committee estimates 1,200 sport volunteers will be needed for the two weeks of the Games and as many 2,800 other volunteers will fill positions that are not sport-specific. Some of the sport leaders have asked for another sign-up day and that's likely to happen, said Lisa Shaw-MacLaren, manager of sport operations for the 2015 Canada Winter Games committee.
"The clubs have already been working on it and this will give us a good indication of where our gaps are, then we can really start pushing to get those people," said Shaw-MacLaren.
"If people wait until a few months before the Games they won't be near the sport they want because training starts this winter with all the test events. We really should have them signed up by Christmas time because the training for sport officials has already started in some sports."