Sports Summit honors volunteers at the core of Toronto community programs

by | Nov 28, 2018 | Feature, Sports

Jacob Phillips
Sports Reporter

Managing sports teams’ volunteers is a delicate balance between keeping them engaged and weeding out those who don’t fit.

Humber College hosted the 2018 Toronto Sports Summit on Saturday. The summit was focused on the roles volunteers have in keeping community sports running smoothly and how to improve Toronto’s many community sports volunteer programs.

These workshops include recruiting, risk management, retention, training, resources, networking and leadership.

The annual summit is funded by the Toronto Sports Council, the Toronto Accessible Sports Council and Humber College’s Sports Management Program.

Joanne McKiernan, director of Community Engagement for Volunteer Toronto and a speaker at the workshop, said it is essential to keep the volunteer teams strong.

“The number one and two challenges everyone has is recruiting and keeping volunteers,” she said.

“And a big part of that is digging into why people care about volunteering.”

“And as a volunteer manager you have to embrace the responsibility of thinking about why people want to be there as volunteers,” McKiernan said.

She said when planning programs and engaging volunteers, the sports community teams recognize them in a way that’s meaningful. McKiernan said she believes volunteers help make the Toronto sports community teams’ world go around.

“You have to make sure why your volunteers want to volunteer and you need to showsyour volunteers you appreciate what they’re doing,” McKiernan said.

Vanessa Wallace spoke about the challenges of dealing with difficult volunteers.

“One of the most important things you have to learn as a volunteer manager is how to properly do the dismissal process,” she said.

“You have to properly judge how your volunteers handle difficulties that they face and their performance on your team,” Wallace said.

“It’s also important to help coach your volunteers through performance drops,” she said.

“And if they still can’t get their performance up, you learn how to properly dismiss them so they don’t get angry,” Wallace said.

One of this year’s special speakers for Toronto Sports Summit was Karl Subban, the father of Nashville Predators superstar defenceman P.K. Subban.

Subban talked about on how to keep one’s vision, perseverance, teamwork and what it means to lead.
Humber’s own Jennifer Bennett, a professor in Sport Management and Sport Business Management, has been in charge of making sure the summit goes well for three years now.

The purpose of the summit is “to come together with community sports leaders to help understand the sports environment,” she said.

“We also want to make sure the students understand the challenges in the sports environment.”

“We want to provide an opportunity for them to work with community sports leaders,” Bennett said.