Preparations for the largest outdoor track and field meet in Canada are coming along nicely, according to volunteer co-ordinator Jill Taylor.
The 2013 NWT Track and Field Championships, to be held in Hay River from June 5-7, is the largest sporting event in the territory.
Taylor said approximately 350 volunteers are needed to run the event, which should attract between 1,100 and 1,200 people.
“We’re getting really close to having everything ready,” she said. “Our planning usually gets underway around Christmas time the year before.”
A variety of committees work together to make sure sponsors, jackets, awards, banners, registration packages and food are adequately planned.
“Most of us get going around April,” Taylor said. “Packages are sent out to the communities and we start looking for accommodations. Most teams coming need a place to stay and that is 99 per cent finalized already.”
A whole other team plans the opening ceremonies, which includes the torch lighting. The identity of the person who will have the honour of lighting the torch is always kept under wraps, however.
More than 200 volunteers are needed on the field alone. Another 60 are needed in the kitchen to prepare ridiculous numbers of hamburgers, Slushies and fresh fruit to be consumed over the three-day period.
The barbecue pit requires another 15 volunteers, while the statistics team, timing team and awards team need 10 each.
NWT Track coach Joe LeBlanc said he’s done his research and has yet to find a bigger outdoor track and field meet in Canada.
“McGill University in Montreal claimed to have the largest indoor meet with 600 people, but we attract twice as many people,” he said. “I get a good look at the Western (championship) numbers because our athletes go to a lot of events, but until someone shows me they have a bigger event, we are the largest.”
LeBlanc added that an Athletics Canada representative came up for the championship not long ago and told him how unique it is in Canada.
Taylor said volunteering for the event is a fantastic way to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and support the territory’s youth.
She added that over 100 Hay River youth have already signed up to help out at the event.
Taylor hopes to have all the volunteer positions confirmed in the next week.
— Myles Dolphin