British Columbia

Volunteers make the world (juniors) go round

When Shelby Tate steps on to the Rogers Arena ice at the world juniors, the game is already over, but her job is just getting interesting.

‘The best part of volunteering is the friendships you make’

Father and daughter Ted and Shelby Tate are volunteers at the world juniors hockey tournament in B.C. (Shelby Tate)

When Shelby Tate steps onto the Rogers Arena ice at the world juniors, the game is already over, but her job is just getting interesting.

Tate, 24, from Uxbridge, Ontario, helps present the player of the game awards to members of both teams as part of her volunteer role at the tournament.

"I get to step out on the ice where the players play the game, are putting their hearts out to try and win a medal."

"My hands were shaking," she said remembering her first time on the ice.

Tate is volunteering at her third world juniors, having done the same at the 2017 and 2015 tournaments in Toronto, and also attending the 2016 event in Finland as a fan.

"Even though we aren't playing for our country, we're showing what our country is about by volunteering and helping."

Tate and her father are among the army of volunteers motivated by a love of the sport that keeps the world juniors' relentless schedule running on time, assisting with everything from 50/50 draws to transportation and photography.

Family affair

Both hockey and volunteering are family activities for the Tates.

Shelby is one of six siblings in what she describes as the quintessential Canadian hockey family.

"I felt like I was born into a hockey arena. I grew up every weekend if not more playing hockey," she said.

"Volunteering at world juniors is giving back."

Shelby Tate (with flag in stands) cheers on Canada as a fan at the 2016 World Juniors in Finland. (Shelby Tate)

Two years ago, Shelby volunteered alongside both her parents and younger brother in Toronto.

"All of us love hockey," she said.

Shelby's father Ted is also in Vancouver this year, volunteering in security at his second world juniors.

"I didn't even realize you could do it until she started doing it," said the elder Tate.

Like many who gave their time at the tournament, the Tates say volunteering comes from their love of the sport and the chance to get an inside perspective on an event that for them is a Christmas holiday tradition.

Shelby Tate poses between Switzerland’s Noah Rod and Sweden’s Oskar Lindblom during a post-match player of the game award ceremony at the 2015 world juniors in Toronto. (Shelby Tate)

"It's just been a great experience to meet people, bond with people and have lifetime friends through doing it," he said.

"Just to volunteer and be behind the scenes … it's probably been the greatest joy ever."

Back for more

Hockey Canada says the Tates are among the thousands who applied to volunteer at this year's world juniors.

"We had an exceptional group of volunteers in both Vancouver and Victoria that contributed their time, energy, enthusiasm that committed to making this an extraordinary event. We couldn't have done it without them and are truly thankful for their contributions," event volunteer coordinator Corinne Ethier said.

In total, the event has about 850 volunteers split nearly evenly between the host cities of Vancouver and Victoria.

Tate says she's already looking to volunteer again the next time the world juniors return to Canada, when the tournament comes to Edmonton and Red Deer in 2021.

"If hockey is something that you love, this probably the best place for you to be."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Black

@TheMatthewBlack

Matthew Black is a B.C.-based writer, producer and reporter. He writes mostly about sports and has worked for CBC in Toronto and Vancouver as well as abroad in London.

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