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Thread: Volunteering at Competitions?

  1. #1
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    Volunteering at Competitions?

    Since I live in the Chicago area, I was thinking about volunteering for Skate America, but since I'm pretty new to the figure skating world, I have no idea what it entails!

    Has anyone volunteered at a big competition like this? If so, what did you do, and how did you like it? What was your time commitment like, and did you actually get to see the competition (I was thinking about buying an all-even ticket)?

    Also - will they take anyone, or is preference given to FSC members?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I volunteered at US Nationals in Boston this year, but that's my only experience. I have no association with the Skate Club of Boston, they just had volunteer info on the event website and i signed up through there. I met several other volunteers who were also just random figure skating lovers with no club affiliation. I worked at the information booth, telling visitors and competitors about Boston and the competition. Some of it was info on where to pick up badges, shuttle routes, competition scheduling, and other specific Nationals info, some of it was about local restaurants and how to ride the T (subway). The time commitment was supposed to be four 6 hour shifts over the course of the week, but I was only assigned three shifts and two nights I got sent home early. I think this was unusual though because I was working early in the week when it was mostly the novice competitions and they wrapped up early and most of the other competitors weren't there yet. But luckily since my shifts were early I was done by mid-week and able to attend the senior competitions. Our volunteer badge got us into every competition and practice for free. The only problem was that you didn't have an assigned seat so if you sat in a ticketed seat you would have to move if the ticket holder showed up, but I never really had that problem. We were given two free tickets anyways, and for the other events i just showed up and sat anywhere.

    I loved volunteering. I got to meet and talk to some really interesting folks, people who go to Nationals every year and have been following certain skaters since their novice/intermediate/junior days. I also got to see several of the skaters up close although we weren't allowed to approach them while on duty. But Jason Brown hung out with some people right near our desk one night. And he is just as happy and upbeat and sweet as he seems. It was really cool to feel like you were a part of this close-knit group. And because I got to go to the events for free I basically got to see as much skating as i wanted for just donating a few hours of my time. Totally worth it in my opinion.

    Sorry for the long reply but I had a fabulous experience and wanted to fully answer your questions!

  3. #3
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    Wow, thank you so much for the info - I'm glad to hear you had such a great experience!

    Quick question - did they randomly assign you to the info booth, or did you list it as a preference? The SA application lists a lot of volunteer jobs they will be filling & asks you to state a preference (but doesn't guarantee you'll get one of those assignments). Since I've never volunteered at a competition before I don't really know what the assignments are. For example, they list media , hospitality, registration/accreditation, production runner. .... There's a whole long list! Do you have any idea of what different tasks volunteers do ? Thanks so much for any help you can provide!

  4. #4
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    The only elite-level competition I have volunteered at was 2003 Worlds in DC.

    I was a member of the host club, but not all volunteers were club members, or local.

    My assignment ended up being patching holes in the ice after practices at the practice rink. They wanted only skaters to do that job, knowing they would have above-average balance for walking on the ice.

    I did have all-event tickets, but I had to give away some of my tickets for events when I was assigned to be at the practice rink instead. So I didn't see any of the pairs competition, or the ladies' qualifying rounds. (I did see Joannie Rochette attempting triple axels in practice while the pairs were competing. She wasn't landing them, BTW.)

    Check with the organizers about your schedule before buying an all-event ticket -- you wouldn't want to spend the money and then not be able to see most of the events. For Skate America, it shouldn't be hard to buy individual tickets or all-event tickets closer to the competition day, if it turns out you won't be needed during the actual competition.

    Some assignments might keep you away from the ice while competition is in progress, so you may end up seeing less skating than if you went as a spectator. You may or may not have some direct interactions with skaters, which you would not likely have as a spectator, which could be exciting in a different way. Of course you would want to act professional and not distract the skaters from the job they're there to do, but I'm sure they appreciate friendly responses to their questions, etc.

    For example, they list media , hospitality, registration/accreditation, production runner. .... There's a whole long list! Do you have any idea of what different tasks volunteers do ?
    I'm not sure exactly, since I didn't do any of those tasks. Media would be dealing with the TV and other journalists with press credentials. Hospitality would be helping with the food and possibly some logistics, maybe for officials, maybe for skaters or coaches, maybe media. Registration/accreditation would be signing people in when they arrive, giving them their credentials, etc. Not sure about "production runner."
    Have fun!

  5. #5
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    Thanks gkelly - very helpful!

  6. #6
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    When I signed up to volunteer, they gave us the whole list of options and asked us to rank our top 3 choices. I was lucky and got my first pick. I think that "production runner" might be the people who transfer the printed out schedules, skate orders, results, etc. as they are generated to various info boards. I saw some people with this information posting on boards that were in certain locations in the arenas and hotels.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, charmblade! Very helpful. I cannot imagine going as gkelly did & patching ice given my (lack of) skating skills- I'm sure I'd fall like 10 times in 2 seconds. I do love meeting people from different cultures, so something like you did sounds great!

  8. #8
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    I was a volunteer in Cleveland for 09 nationals. I filled out the site form, and checked areas I was interested in working . I was very lucky. Can't remember what I checked,
    but I met many skaters, took their official badge photos, and did some other cool things. It was divine. I worked 5 four hour shifts, but was able to watch all the competitions as my work was mainly at the beginning of the week. It was an experience I'll never forget. Best of all, I met Uncle Dick and his son, and when he walked into the room, I had my professional face on and simply asked if I could help him with anything. I finally realized who it was and we started to chat about Michelle and when I told him that Alyssa's short program the night before was almost as good as Michelle's, he said that he'd have to see that...not as dig to Alyssa, but as a compliment to Michelle. So much fun. I took a four day vacation from school and used all of my personal days. I stayed at the home of a friend I had met through MKForum (and had spent time with at St Louis Nats in 06) and we had the best time ever. She still volunteers at events in Cleveland. Go for it!

  9. #9
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    Friends of mine volunteered in pairs and mens events at 2010 Olympics and they LOVED it. I say go for it! And you'll likely have a back-stage view of the skaters once they're off-camera, and an opportunity to see them interact with one another. Plus, be sure to bring back gossip about who's friends with who, and who isn't ...

  10. #10
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    anyanka and edenlover - thanks both so much for your stories - very inspiring! I really would like to volunteer since Chicago so rarely gets major competitions - not sure when such an opportunity would come again! edenlover, I'm wondering if your assignment might have been what they call registration / accreditation, since that would likely occur before competition began? anyanka, do you have any idea what your friends did as volunteers? Unfortunately, the SA volunteer sheet doesn't give you the choice to say, I want to work with men or ladies or pairs - you just state your preference for these broad categories like "media" and then hope for the best!

    If anyone else has stories to share, I'd love to hear them - hopefully I will be successful in getting an assignment, and will then have stories to share with all of you, too!

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