Young volunteers thrilled to be part of Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg – Manitoba

Two Winnipeg girls are thrilled to be part of the Canada Summer Games for the first time ever not only as fans, but volunteers.

Simone Ethier and friend Hannah Walsh, both 11, are among the 6,000 volunteers at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.

They volunteered to be ball retrievers at the beach volleyball matches taking place at Sargent Park Beach Volleyball Centre this week.

“It’s exciting, the best part is meeting all the players, you get to meet great players, phenomenal players trying to go to the Olympics maybe,” said Simone Ethier. She was all smiles as she arrived for her first shift of the day in sweltering heat on Monday afternoon.

Simone Ethier arrived for her first shift in sweltering heat on Monday afternoon. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

“Very excited about today, still a little hesitant cause this morning I got really sick, might have been all the sugar I had yesterday, I had a lot of muffins and the heat just made it worse,” Ethier said.

“It’s really cool you get to watch the games for free every day, even if it’s really hot, but it’s totally worth it!” said Hannah Walsh. “It’s exciting, like this is like a big deal!” 

Ethier’s father Alex is also a referee at the beach volleyball games at the Canada Summer Games, one of three referees from Volleyball Canada. He said he called the volunteer co-ordinator and the girls were signed up very quickly.

“Being a referee I figured my daughter might like to be a part of the games,” Alex Ethier said.

“They’re not volleyball players, they just wanted to be part of something big,” he said.

“The camp-out was a lot of fun too,” Simone said.

“That’s when we started staying up really late, like real girls, teenagers,” she said. 

Simone (centre), Hannah (left) and their friend Mercedes Soares had planned a Canada Summer Games camp-out. (Submitted)

 A third friend was supposed to join the girls for a slumber party week at her house, but her friend couldn’t make it, because she fell ill over the weekend.

“But now that’s it’s just the two of us, we stacked both mattresses on top of each other and just slept on that,” she said.​

Volunteers playing ‘critical’ role

President and CEO of the Canada Summer Games Jeff Hnatiuk praised Manitoba’s volunteers, adding they are a “critical” part of the national event.

“When you look at the numbers they’re quite staggering, when we’ve got over 33,000 shifts that are filled, that equals over 400,000 volunteer hours,” Hnatiuk said.

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