Carey Summerfelt, manager of sponsorship and events for Sport BC, began the evening by remarking on how important volunteers are to making sport available to youth in communities across the country.
“Sport makes up the largest sector of volunteers by far, with over 34,000 organizations and 5.3 million volunteers,” she said.
Mayor Mike Bernier echoed that sentiment, saying Dawson Creek was very fortunate to have so many great volunteers who contribute o much to the community.
“We have great amenities in Dawson Creek, but those would absolutely nothing if we didn’t have great people volunteering their time to work with people in our community to make sure they are utilized, and to make sure there are opportunities for everybody in our community to play sports,” he said.
Dawson Creek’s Community Sport Heroes are:
Connie Patterson (figure skating): Patterson joined the Mile 0 Figure Skating Club in 1967 to take up position of advertising chair. She said she got involved because her son wanted to be a hockey player, but took figure skating to become more comfortable on the ice.
She is credited with reorganizing the club in the midst of a significant drop in membership as a result of the skating rink closing for two years. She would go on to serve in various functions for the club, and eventually as president. From there, she became a region area representative for clubs in the Northeast, then chair for the region, and later served as chair of Skate Canada for British Columbia and the Yukon.
Patterson is credited with advancing skater development in Dawson Creek and the province by recruiting the best coaches and implementing a sponsorship package for clubs to cover the cost of travel and skater development.
“That’s what I strived for, that you do not have to leave your hometown and go to a big city to be a national skater, you could actually learn in your hometown,” she said.
She later served as an accountant and judge for Skate Canada before retiring last year after more than 40 years of service.
Her daughter also got involved in figure skating at an early age, and she was older, competed at the national and international levels.
“Figure skating has been very good to our family,” said Patterson. “For everything I put into figure skating, I got ten times more out of it.”
Christina Wards (multiple sports): From curling to baseball, bowling to hockey, there are not many local sports that Christina Wards has not been involved in. Wards credits the passion of her three children for driving her to get involved with so many sports.
“It’s to make the sport better for them,” she said. “Plus, I like to organize things, and you better yourself when you get involved with the sports your kids are in.”
Wards has curled for over 30 years, and has coached and organized junior curling all over the province for about the same period. She said curling is probably her favourite sport to be involved in because of the way the games are conducted.
“The thing that keeps me coming back is that the kids that I coach in junior curling turn out to be such nice, responsible adults. Curling is a gentleman’s sport, and it brings out responsible, sportsmanlike adults.”
Wards has also coached and volunteered for various minor league baseball teams all across British Columbia and Alberta for over 30 years. She has coached junior soccer for the last five years, and youth bowling both locally and at the provincial level for 15 years. Two of her children are in minor hockey, and Wards has volunteered to help coach, keep score, organize tournaments and provide transportation for the players.
Recently, she has been volunteering at the Bear Mountain Ski Hill, and for junior volleyball tournaments.
Don Bourassa (curling): Don Bourassa has been on the executive of the Dawson Creek Curling Club at various times for more than 30 years. He has been instrumental in the junior curling program for the last 15 years, particularly with high school students. His teams have won five provincial and one national/international championship in the last decade.
Bourassa has also coached hockey, and won a provincial hockey championship at the provincial level. He has coached basketball and volleyball as well.
He is credited with not only inspiring his athletes to reach their full potential in their respective sports, but also to contribute to those sports as mentors and coaches for younger players.
Bourassa said he has always looked at community involvement as a traditional community woodpile, where people get out only what the community puts back in.
“I think we would all like to have that wood pile higher when we are done our involvement in our local sports,” he said.
Ted Schilds (hockey): Ted Schilds has been involved with hockey as a player and a volunteer for over 50 years. He has been a player, coach, manager, team representative, tournament organizer, executive member, and most recently, as an organizer of an adult recreational hockey league in Dawson Creek. He has been involved with Dawson Creek Minor Hockey, both the Junior and Senior Canucks, Old Timers Hockey, and is currently the chair of the Northern Hockey League.
Schilds said hockey has been a passion of his family’s since the 1930’s, and he feels a responsibility to make sure today’s local youth can still have those opportunities to play.
“I get great satisfaction out of seeing the young people come up. Hockey is a great sport.”
Schilds has also volunteered for the Senior Games in Dawson Creek, and was a key contributor to the development of the Memorial Arena Hall of Fame.
As for why he continues to play hockey, he said he still gets the same rush being on the ice as he did 50 years ago.
“It’s such a release to get out on the ice, I really still do get that part out of the game, and the camaraderie is always there, and I just enjoy that so much still.”
Andrew Kadziolka (skiing): Andrew Kadziolka is credited with helping to keep the Bear Mountain Ski Hill operational for the past 25 years. In fact, when the ski hill was in disarray in the 1980’s and was in danger of closing down, he invested some of his own money into the hill to keep it open.
“I didn’t want to see the legacy of the people who started it (the ski hill) die,” said Kaziolka on why he has invested his time and money in the ski hill. “There were a lot of people that started this from scratch in the 1950’s, and I thought if they could do all of that work to keep it going, how much more work is it really to keep it going.”
He has served on the board of directors for many years – including as president during a few difficult years – and today is an active board member and volunteer. He has volunteered on many occasions to operate the snow guns so the hill could open.
Kadziolka said there are many technical issue involved with operating the ski hill, so he has always felt it was important to keep continuity on the board so that knowledge wasn’t lost, and that is why he continues to be involved.
Currently, the board of directors is in the midst of a significant fundraising campaign to install a new tee-bar lift on the hill. He said he is confident they will reach that goal and that Bear Mountain Ski Hill will continue to operate for patrons to enjoy for many years to come.
The award recipients received a trophy and a $100 gift certificate for Firstar Sports. The trophies were presented by Brian Lieverse, community relations advisor for EnCana, which sponsors the Community Sport Hero Awards.