Volunteers carry the ball for major sports eventsWritten by Scott McKimmy | | email@example.com
Coordinating volunteers to pull off special pro sporting events such as an all-star game or golf tournament may seem a lot like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. As each piece fits into place, a picture gradually emerges for local fans to enjoy in their own backyard, while the rest of the country watches on TV sets across the country.
For the 2006 Triple-A All-Star game at Fifth Third Field on July 12 and the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic at Highland Meadows Country Club in Sylvania July 10 through 16, a total of almost 1,500 volunteers somewhere in the range of 18 to 89 years old will pitch in to help.
The Mud Hens’ campaign is winding down, according to Cheri Pastula, manager of community relations, who is overseeing volunteer efforts for ProMedica Health System’s All-Star Week July 8 through 10. The majority of the 150 to 200 people will work at the three-day Fan Fest or serve in a “concierge-like” role welcoming out-of-town visitors.
“We’ll be relying on a lot of our volunteers to help out and to help execute that so [Fan Fest is] effective and that it all runs smooth and everyone has a good time while they are there,” Pastula said.
“Our goal is to make everyone feel welcome. We hope to find volunteers that are qualified and are able to do that and help Toledo just shine during All-Star Week.”
At the Jamie Farr, volunteers will serve as marshals, greeters, guides and in a host of other capacities, according to Heather Warga, JFOCC volunteer coordinator, forming the backbone of the operations staff. She said about 1,200 to 1,300 volunteers will “cover everything from A to Z,” with about half alone needed as course marshals during the 72-hole event.
“Everything that you see that’s [going on] on the course with the exception of, like the concession stand, that is pretty much done by our volunteers,” she said. “So we really rely heavily on that base of people.”
Many return year after year, Warga added, becoming an integral part of the tournament. They often choose the same volunteer position for a few tours of duty, then switch roles for a change of pace. Some have 10 to 15 years under their belts, while a select few have been lifers volunteering for most or all of the 22 years since the tournament debuted.
As a result, Warga has been looking for “newbies” — the next generation who can replace veteran volunteers who decide to hang up their uniforms and become spectators. One recent retiree worked on Hole 2 at age 89.
“We’re trying to recruit some new people because, although there’s not a big turnover, some are now in mid-’70s and ’80s, and we’re trying to get some fresh faces.”
Volunteers pay $55 for a standard package, which, as Warga explained, covers costs including uniforms and meals. They work a minimum of three four-hour shifts and enjoy fringe benefits such as club passes, parking and meals. Turnout has always been within a comfortable range to run the tournament.
“We can always use people,” Warga said. “We really never have turned anybody away, and we never are [left] short. Sometimes we’re registering people up until the week of the event if they decide that they want to work.”
Carol Gibbs, assistant volunteer tournament chair, said she started about nine years ago as a marshal and decided to take on greater responsibilities by advancing through the ranks. She moved up to hole captain and has served as co-chair of volunteer services, spectator services and operations.
Today she works with chairmen and directors within each department to help keep volunteer operations on par, but initially, she “just liked being there” helping to raise money for a favored charity.
“I enjoy it,” Gibbs said. “I started out at the Ronald McDonald House because they’re one of the main benefactors. All the charities we raise money for are for children.”
When not working for a residential builder in Temperance, Gibbs has kept her hands full preparing for the tournament. She said the volunteer drive is on track compared to previous years, and late bloomers will stream in to volunteer during the final week or two.
“So far we’re at about the same numbers as volunteers that were added this time of year last year,” Gibbs added. “We’re probably about 200 shy of where we need to be.”