Today was my first real volunteer experience for the Roar of the Rings Olympic Curling Trials which take place in December (in case you missed this how this all started check out this post) - it was Volunteer Pep Rally Night! I am quite fortunate to be on the volunteer team, because 90% of the volunteers are returning from the World Men's Curling Championship that was held in 2007. This means though that newbies are few and far between.
I headed down to the Northlands Agricom (which is under construction, but is supposed to be finished before the event in December). I checked in and paid my $75 fee, and was then ushered into the women's fitting area. Here, I tried on different sizes of the two crested pieces of uniform we'll get: a black long sleeve pull over and a red and black jacket. They're quite nice actually (even though red is so not my colour), and since part of my motivation for all this is to finally have a crested sports jacket, I'm quite happy with the uniform.
Jackie Rae, a local radio DJ, who is the self professed 'Lord of the Rings' gave a pep talk (she's very nice and quite funny) and then I had my photo taken for my ID badge. Drinks and cookies were available while we met with our group leader. Admittedly I didn't learn very much about what's going to happen from this meeting, but did glean some bits of wisdom from the other volunteers on the 'Merchandising Crew'. Apparently there are three 'shops' that we will be working at (2 at Rexall where the event is held, one at Northlands near the bar area called 'The Patch') which are open from 10am-10pm. We are required to work 30hrs over the week. It sounds like we'll just be doing retail work: finding sizes, helping customers etc. Someone said we can buy a parking pass, or ride free on transit with an ID badge (I've got a Upass for transit from school, so this doesn't apply to me, though I think it's a great idea). I also got a goodie bag of free stuff (Tim Horton's cup, air freshner, bottle of water, pen, M&M Meatshop and Boston Pizza coupon). It was a bit overwhelming, but I'm sure I'll learn more from the emails that come out over the next few months.
I guess we can watch any of the curling for free when we're not working. One woman said we get assigned seating, but another woman told me you just sat in an empty chair or stood wherever you could. Free viewing is nice, but depending on my schedule I might get some single tickets to sit with family. Or go home and watch it on tv (and let's face it, I'll rewatch the entire thing from TSN's online archive over the Christmas holidays anyways).
All the volunteers and the organizing crew seem really nice. The vast majority of the volunteers appear to be lovely retired folks, which is great because I like hanging out with lovely retired folks (they are far less pretentious and judgmental than people my age, in my opinion anyways). I was definitely the youngest one there. I think it'll be a bit like folk fest, where you can just talk to anyone, and I'm quite good at making friends like that. Curling fans are pretty awesome, so I reckon it'll be a fun and friendly atmosphere.
I happened to be taking the LRT home with another volunteer, and she told me a bit about volunteering for the 2007 Worlds and a past figure skating event. She said everyone is nice, and that she did get to see a bunch of athletes, though she never really met any of them. She seemed to think that The Patch would be full of rowdy partiers (more so than the figure skating or world's for some reason), and that the curlers wouldn't necessarily make appearances there. Overall she said she enjoyed the experiences though.
It was an interesting night. I think because I am doing this alone (ie. without a spouse like most of the other volunteers) and I don't know anyone because I haven't done it before (unlike 90% of the rest of the volunteers) I might get a bit lonely. I'm fine with that though, because I'm sure I'll meet lot's of nice people over the course of the week and various family members will be around for part of it. But I don't think I'll be Patching it. Watching curling by myself is fine, but I draw the line at going to the bar alone. Which might be a shame because I'm getting the impression it's the place to be. Oh well. I don't drink anyways. I do hope I get to see some curlers though!