“From a little spark may burst a mighty flame,” ~Dante Alighieri
There is always more than meets the eye at an initial glance. Here at the Games, we are seeing the product of all the athletes’ hard work. We are witnessing their games, competitions, and races, watching them chase their dreams. The hard work, long hours, training, blood, sweat, and tears are now paying off. The training that at times may have seemed thankless is now receiving its reward.
Just as the athletes put in hours of training that often goes unrecognized, there is a great support crew at the Canada Games that is helping to make things run smoothly. At the top level, there are the organizers of the Games. From there, each province has a Chef de Mission who is in charge of their provincial team. And each province has a Mission Staff, who serve as a liaison between the Chef and the teams. Most mission staff are assigned a team to work with each week, assisting and supporting the team. As Team Sask’s mental trainer, I am not assigned a specific sport team to work with, and am instead available to work with all the teams as needed.
A typical day for me at the Games looks like this:
My day starts at 8:30am with a mission staff meeting. There is a Team Sask room in our hotel in which we have morning (and evening) meetings. While we eat breakfast, the Chef and Assistant Chef give us updates from their morning meeting with the other Chefs. Each mission staff gives a quick update about what they and their team have been up to. This helps to ensure that everyone has key information for the day.
From there, I typically head out to watch Team Sask and cheer on the athletes. I typically watch three to four different sports a day. This means that I am getting very good at navigating the city and area. On Monday, my fellow mission staff member Briana did an excellent job at driving us around, while I managed the maps and directions. I have a mission staff cell phone and share a car with another mission staff, so I am able to get around and stay in contact with people while I am out. Coaches are also able to get a hold of me if they would like to meet.
Each team also has a mission office downtown, near the Athletes’ Village and services area. At least one person must be in the office from about 7am until 1am. We have a schedule set up to ensure that each person rotates through their duty. I tend to stop there in the afternoon, to pick up mail, check in, and see how everything is going.
My schedule is very flexible, so I am available to meet with coaches and athletes as requested. The Games can be stressful, so I help them deal with pressure, expectations, distractions, disappointments, and anything else that may arise. Usually we will just find a quiet corner to sit and talk, whether it is in the hotel lobby, at the end of a hallway, or in the cafeteria. I thoroughly watching the athletes in action, but I love being able to sit and talk with them about their Games experience. One of the advantages to working in the mission office is that coaches and athletes periodically stop by, so I am able to ask them how their day and competition is going.
I manage to fit a run in at some point in the afternoon, which helps me to maintain my sanity. After that, I’m recharged and ready to go for the evening. This may be taking in more competitions or working the mission staff desk. Last night I was invited to dinner with the curlers, coaches, and families, and it was wonderful to sit and talk with everyone. They are enjoying Halifax and all it has to offer, and gave me some tips for things to do when I have a chance.
At the end of the day, the mission staff tends to gather again at our mission room in the hotel. We talk about how the day has gone, and share a beverage and snack. Some evenings there is a reception. The other night Team Sask hosted a parents’ reception, and tonight we are co-hosting a reception with a couple other teams.
It’s a busy schedule, but I am completely enjoying my first Canada Games experience!