The Many Faces of the Canada Summer Games 2013 Sherbrooke

Clement JacquesSHERBROOKE: Looking back on the Canada Summer Games 2013 that were hosted by la Ville de Sherbrooke, we not only recall the events that filled each day, for two weeks, with extraordinary ability, strength and endurance but also the energy and kindness of the people that we met along the way. This major event for the Estrie region has indeed made a lasting impression on many.

Volunteers encompassed a wide range of ages, from various levels of numerous communities; many with outstanding personalities who helped make this not only a sporting event but also a bilingual, multi-cultural one. I must admit that I was a little surprised to encounter one gentleman from Winnipeg who shared that he had been involved with the Canada Games, both winter and summer, since 2006, as a referee. I, like so many others, had assumed that volunteers for the Canada Summer Games 2013 would be coming from the Thi My Lien Dang and Sherbrooke and surrounding area. He may have been the first volunteer from outside the area that I encountered over the two-week period but he was certainly not the last. 

Another of these memorable faces belonged to a young lady, Thi My Lien Dang, who helped co-ordinate the locations involving sailing competitions, making sure that all the competitors had what they needed to provide them with a positive experience. Her positive energy and enthusiasm made everyone’s day into a special one. Being an exchange student from France, she had signed on as a volunteer not only because she had felt this would be a memorable and learning experience but also as a means of improving her use of the English language.

The athletes, not to mention their cheering sections, also became instant ambassadors for the Games. One kind spectator, Peter Kelly whose son William was involved in the 2-man sailing competition, took time to explain the fine points of competitive sailing. Thanks to Mr. Kelly, I was able to enjoy the sailing competition on Joe Gerlinskymany different levels and truly understand how complex a sport it really was.

Many of the athletes are also involved in sports ‘back home’ other than what they were competing in such as Joe Gerlinsky (Saskatchewan) whose team took the silver medal in 2.4 category (team of 4). In addition to sailing during the summer months, Gerlinsky also enjoys participating in winter biathalons (skiing and shooting competition).

Connor Boyle (Saskatchewan team) earned the gold medal in the laser category (sailing). Boyle told that although this was his first visit to this region, he had not been intimidated by the fact that Lac Magog was a smaller inland lake than he was used to. “It is all part of the sport – having to adapt to different locations, wind and weather conditions. That is what makes you a better sailer!” His first experience in competitive sailing was at the Manitoba Games. The Canada Summer Games 2013 Sherbrooke was his third really big regatta.

Even though he goes to school in Kingston, Boyle explained that he trained from May – August in Halifax Conner Boylewhich he felt offers the best sailing programs and a chance to compete against other racers who have set their sites on professional competition. Boyle began ‘laser’ sailing about 5 years ago. When asked how he first became interested in competitive sailing, he proudly told that his Dad used to compete and had taken silver in Ontario in 1985 -- the sport had always been a part of his family’s activities.

Unfortunately for Boyle, this will be his first and his last Canada Summer Games as he will be too old for this category the next time the Games are held. He will be continuing his studies in Commerce in Kingston but feels confident that he will make time for sailing in the future, even if it is just as a hobby.

And then we come to Evelyn Komery, from Sherbrooke, at 84-years-young, one volunteer who had such a positive outlook on life itself that she was indeed a pleasure to be around. She talked of her interest in both 84 years youngpeople and sports. She not only likes to watch sports on television but also remains active by bowling, golfing, curling, playing bridge and being involved in church activities. “I love meeting people – everyone I have met is so nice!” Komery was also garnering attention as the oldest volunteer at the Canada Summer Games 2013 Sherbrooke.

All in all, more than 6000 volunteers gave of their time and energy to make the Canada Summer Games 2013 Sherbrooke a memorable one. Volunteers were also indispensable in making this an environmentally friendly event, one of the first of its kind for the Canada Games.