Athletes, coaches sing praises of 2014 Alberta Summer Games
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 06:00 am
With the 2014 Alberta Summer Games officially in the history books, Chairman Al Jones will finally have a chance to relax.
However, he and the rest of the organizing committee still have some things to finish up before resting on their laurels.
“There’s quite a bit that has to be wrapped up even though the events are over,” Jones said following the closing ceremonies at Genesis Place Recreation Place on July 27. “We have to give back the facilities to those that own them, return things that we borrowed, clean up our offices, and fill out reports that we will pass on to the 2016 Summer Games host in Leduc.”
“The pressure though is off now when it comes to running the Summer Games, and the feedback that we got from people on it was amazing,” he added. “People were amazed by the facilities, the organization and the amount of volunteers that we had around the events.”
A total of 2,535 athletes and coaches from eight different provincial zones came to Airdrie for the Summer Games, with local and out-of-town participants having different reasons for why this year’s event stood out.
“You had the opening ceremonies to start things off that make it feel like a massive event, and little things like the medal presentations are different than a regular competition,” Airdrie track and field medallist Adam Sleik said.
“Everything was close by for the athletes, and I think the number of volunteers that was around town made everything run smoothly,” Calgary-based softball Coach Neal Harlos added.
One of the approximately 2,000 volunteers who played a part during the 2014 Alberta Summer Games was James Morris of Irricana, who put up signs so parents, athletes and spectators knew where the venues were.
“It was pretty cool to be a part of the experience, even if it was in a small way,” Morris said. “Many of us were busy working on things so we didn’t get to see each other that often, but the feedback we as volunteers had was nice to hear.”
Mayor Peter Brown made many appearances around the city of Airdrie to check out events during the course of the Summer Games and was impressed by the buzz and excitement from citizens in Airdrie and visitors to the city.
“This event would not be a success if it wasn’t for people like Al Jones, the organizing team, and all of the volunteers that did whatever they could to make the athletes feel welcome and safe,” Brown said. “Our city has done an amazing job, and I’m really thrilled with how exceptional this weekend went.”
“It’s been exciting to watch and see the buzz, especially on social media during the last few days,” added Calgary-Glenmore MLA Linda Johnson, who officially declared the Games closed on July 27.
“This entire weekend was a great reminder of how big and vibrant our province is, and the energy and enthusiasm of the young people and those that made this event a success was outstanding.”
While the locations for the 2016 Alberta Winter and Summer Games are already set for Medicine Hat and Leduc respectively, Jones said he wouldn’t be surprised if Airdrie plays host to another major provincial event in the future.
“The chatter among the volunteers and some of the other members on the committee is to look towards having either another Summer Games or a Winter Games here down the line,” Jones said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that with the solid base of volunteers that we’ve built up over the last 25 months, there will be people in that group to lead another event like this in the future.”